Recently I learned I’d been selected as a World Happiness Summit® Coach. I was excited about working with some of the world’s leading experts in the science of happiness and well being,and having the chance to join them in sharing practical tools for a happier life with participants at the “WOHASU” summit.
However…it has been gloomy and cold winter here in the New York/New Jersey area. Like many, I am affected by this type of weather; it drains my energy. So when I was asked to be one of the World Happiness Summit coaches, the first thought that came to mind was, "Is this a joke?" Here I was, not really happy at that moment, and yet I'm being invited to the Florida event to support others as a happiness coach? I felt like an imposter.
But here's the thing: I had to make a choice. My first option was to stay home, go through my normal, fairly mundane day working with my clients (for whom I am so grateful), and being with my family (for whom I'm also so grateful)…knowing my low energy would have me dragging. I was already having a hard time motivating myself to do things I needed and wanted to do.
The other option? Go to sunny, warm Florida for three days! There I’d get to meet amazing people, be inspired by fabulous speakers and connect with energized, positive participants from all over the world. Afterwards, I’d visit my daughter who lives in Florida. But…I would also face the discomfort of traveling alone and attending a gathering without a single familiar face, not knowing the whole time what's expected of me…and feeling all the while like I should!
So if I didn't go I would continue feeling sluggish and uninspired, but if I did go I would be uncomfortable and feel like an imposter. What a choice!
What clinched it for me was knowing that, once I got to the summit, the collective energy there was going to lift me up, and that would more than make up for the discomfort. We all need the collective energy of our tribe from time to time to lift us up. How could I not grab the opportunity to spend time with my tribe? I made the choice to go.
Two thousand people from twenty-five countries were represented there, with amazing people from all walks of life, and many of those amazing people came to me for coaching. What a great experience - sometimes just giving is a gift in itself, because when you hear “Thank you,” when someone appreciates what you do, that's a reward. I'm so happy I went.
It's important to know that in life we need to make choices. Choices like this will come up all the time, and it's our mindset that will control what motivates us or holds us back. Sometimes fear and anxiety are powerful forces holding us back from choosing the path we actually prefer, so I would like to share with you how I dealt with my anxiety about going to the summit.
First, I went on the World Happiness summit website, found the coaches and speakers, and connected with all of them on LinkedIn. I told them I would be there and asked to connect in person during the summit. In the process, I discovered two women were from New York and New Jersey. We spoke on the phone and decided to book into the same hotel, and suddenly I was no longer going alone.
One of those women, Cheryl Marks Young, became more than a traveling companion – she became a friend and someone I really felt synergy with. I appreciate everything she did that helped me feel comfortable and to facilitate things for me – we were a team, supporting each other and helping each other. Cheryl is a great example of the kind of coaches we had at the event. I learned so much and had such a great experience that I’d love to share something about each speaker and the lessons I learned, one by one.
I expect more great things will come from these amazing connections in the future. The World Happiness Summit’s lesson was to spread happiness and asked us to do the same. I think of that old shampoo commercial where a women says she’ll “tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on and so on and so on.” The summit closed with an invitation to everyone there, to commit to doing something to change the world that increases the happiness of others.
My idea is to create a 21-day free Facebook challenge, and I would love for you to join me! If you know anyone who needs to find a little happiness in their life, please offer this as a resource for them. One of the things we know is that happiness is tied to gratitude and kindness; to being grateful for everything we have in our life, and also to being kind to someone without expecting a thing in return. That's the ultimate deal.
To set you up for success, here’s a tip: gratitude is a state of being when you appreciate what you have and what God's given you. It’s the opposite of focusing on what’s wrong or what you don’t have, which is like focusing on darkness instead of on light. When you're focused on darkness it's very hard to see light. By being grateful you are focusing on the light instead. One great way to focus is to keep a gratitude journal and list what you’re happy about in it every day. You can be happy that the sun came up, or that somebody acknowledged you or said thank you. Nothing is too small to be grateful about.
The point of the challenge is to create a habit of awareness and choice, so any time you start to feel down or depressed, you shift your focus from the “dark” – or how bad and tired and worried you feel – to something light. You might say something like, “Oh my God, I'm so happy the sun's shining, and I so appreciative being able to walk down the street in this beautiful weather.” Another practice is to raise our awareness of the people who come in and out of our lives. We often have no idea what they've done for us,and what they’ve taught us, until we look back later in life. I encourage you to take a moment to think about the people in your life – including the “difficult” ones – and be grateful for them, and thank them.
This 21-day challenge is going to be a journey we’ll take together, and will include you writing an email, text or handwritten letter to something or someone in your life every day. I will offer everyone a daily prompt, you’ll each decide how long or short your response should be, and one by one we’ll all acknowledge circumstances, experiences and people in our lives that have made an impact or taught us a lesson. It's about saying “Thank You” and not getting anything back in return.
So come join me on my 21-day challenge of writing little daily gratitude notes. This is the commitment I made at the Happiness summit, and I hope you'll join me! If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.