To live happy according to the principles covered
below may require reinventing yourself. I say this
because they are counter-cultural virtues — even
spiritual principles — that purveyors of
fast-living and instant gratification may shun.
But if you’re open to a new, or revised, template
for working and living life to the fullest, in a
way that will catapult you to success, I offer you
nine ways of doing just that. Fair warning: choice
and intent are the two prerequisites to pull this
1. Always start with love.
In the Agape sense, it’s a selfless, “I got your
back” type of love that defines great leaders. It
demonstrates commitment, loyalty, respect, care,
and high regard for others.
In human centered workplaces that place people
over profit (while becoming profitable in the long
run), there is unconquerable goodness that always
seeks the highest in others. When it spreads
across an enterprise, it is a love that declares,
“I value you as an employee, co-worker, and human
Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, advocates for love
through “compassionate management.” In this
instructional video, he says, “I need to put
myself in the shoes of the people that I’m working
with. I need to see the world through their lens
and their perspective. I need to coach them where
I can coach them. I need to play to their
strengths. I need to understand what it is that
they’re trying to accomplish.” That is love.
2. Choose to live in a state of joy (instead of
The joy referred to here is deeper than happiness.
Yes, big difference. Joy is more serene and stable
than the happiness the world offers, which is more
emotional and temporary (like watching a movie
you’ve been dying to see).
Being in a state of joy comes down to choice, and
making that choice has long-term psychological
benefits. Brain research by Dr. Wataru Sato of
Kyoto University says that when you choose joyful
behaviors (like gratitude, compassion,
forgiveness, and other virtues on this list), you
hold the key to rewiring a region of the brain
called the precuneus.
By changing your daily habits to a state of joy,
you’ll be able to control your sense of well-being
and purpose. If you’re caught in a vicious circle
of nasty emotions like doubt, fear, and
uncertainty, replace those emotions by consciously
and intentionally choosing joy.
Use the tools of meditation, prayer, journaling,
and mindfulness to aid you in the process. Check
in with close friends and family after two weeks
and ask if they have noticed a difference in you.
3. Choose to live in a state of peace.
It has often been said that peace is the absence
of confusion, or even fear and anxiety. This means
having the capacity to experience peace with
others, your current situation, and the path
My personal illustration is the very path I’m on
as a speaker, coach, trainer, and author. I
started with an idea. While the idea evolved
through phases of investor pitches that led
nowhere, failed business proposals, trial and
error business models, and being crushed by bigger
competitors, one thing I always had and wouldn’t
trade for anything was, and continues to be, a
peace that surpasses all logic and understanding.
It’s having an internal compass that guides you,
where you hear a voice or feel an inkling that
says this is the path, keep going.
Choosing peace allows you to stick to the plan,
even when the skeptics say you’re crazy. Peace
blocks distractions that try to derail you from
the plan. Peace means minding your own business,
not comparing yourself with others, and being
grateful every day for the place you find
4. Choose the path of patience.
Patience is a virtue I wish more people practiced.
It helps you relax and rethink when things are
snowballing out of control.
A leader who practices patience and is slow to
anger receives far less attention and acclaim than
a charismatic boss with a commanding presence but
a short fuse. Yet the former has the clear edge.
In one 2012 study, researchers found that patient
people made more progress toward their goals and
were more satisfied when they achieved them
(particularly if those goals were difficult)
compared with less patient people.
Other research also found that patient people tend
to experience less depression and negative
emotions and can cope better with stressful
situations. Additionally, they feel more
gratitude, more connection to others, and
experience a greater sense of abundance.
Finally, patience helps you see the innocence in
other people during those really frustrating
moments when you’d like fist to meet wall
5. Choose to practice kindness.
In the workplace, we don’t think about such “soft”
virtues like kindness making any business impact,
but the evidence proves otherwise.
When companies create an environment of kindness
lived out in corporate values daily, they will see
a happier workplace and an improved bottom line.
Research by Jonathan Haidt at New York University
suggests that when a co-worker watches other
co-workers help each other, it heightens a sense
of well-being in that person. This is something
Haidt calls “elevation.” And when we feel elevated
by seeing an act of kindness, we are more likely
to behave with kindness.
Kindness begets kindness and spreads like wildfire
across an enterprise. This improves collaboration,
productivity, and the bottom line.
6. Choose being in a state of goodness.
Being in a state of goodness is a mindset espoused
by people with character and moral excellence. In
being good, you cross over from a mindset of power
and control over others to a servant leadership
mindset of doing good, like meeting the needs of
others before your own.
Being in a state of goodness requires the lucid
understanding that your integrity is never, ever,
compromised. When you walk in integrity and moral
excellence, you discern between right and wrong,
what is fair and just, and never mislead or
Billionaire Warren Buffett went as far as
suggesting that, when hiring workers, integrity is
a non-negotiable virtue of goodness to look for in
every candidate. Buffet said: “You’re looking for
three things, generally, in a person:
intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they
don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with
the first two.”
As an honest person with unquestionable character
living and working in goodness (with yourself and
others), you walk in truth and light. As the
wisest King in history once said, “wisdom will
enter your heart and knowledge [truth] will be
pleasant to your soul.”
7. Choose to have faith.
I don’t speak of religion, which has been abusive
to so many. I speak of a faith–whatever your
belief system–that comes from a deep spiritual
connection with a power greater than yours. A
power that extends you grace, forgiveness, love.
It’s this faith that strengthens you and makes you
endure your trials. A faith that helps you realize
it’s better to surrender the outcome than
experience perpetual anxiety and a coronary. Sound
Leadership thinker and author Mike Myatt
brilliantly captured my thoughts about “surrender”
in this article in Forbes, where he said:
“Society has labeled surrender as a sign of
leadership weakness, when in fact, it can be among
the greatest of leadership strengths. Let me be
clear, I’m not encouraging giving in or giving
up–I am suggesting you learn the ever so subtle
art of letting go.”
So surrender to the outcome, believe that things
will work out according to your vision, and
surround yourself with trusted advisers, friends,
and family who will support you in your journey.
8. Choose to act with the unpretentious power of
I’ve heard a few times from people in position of
power that humility is weak. Yet this core virtue
drives at the inner strongholds that make a bad
leader: pride, self-centeredness, judgmentalism,
control, and impulsiveness.
Best-selling author and thought-leader Jim
Collins, who wrote the insanely-famous Good to
Great, has probably dedicated more time writing
about humble leaders than any other topic in his
landmark study of Level 5 Leadership.
Collins determined from his extensive research
that these respected leaders direct their ego away
from themselves to the larger goal of leading
their company to greatness without arrogance.
At any level, in any role, the shift from ego to
humility can drastically alter the outcome to your
9. Choose to have self-control.
How do people in your office respond during a
crisis? Are colleagues or managers calm,
clear-headed, optimistic, and a beacon of light
for the team? Or do you see temper tantrums,
fingers pointing in different directions, and
others foolishly acting on impulse with more bad
choices that make conflict worse?
In emotional intelligence studies, self-control
(or self-management) takes care of that ugly
stuff. It’s a personal competence developed in
every good leader. The question behind
self-control is: Can I manage my emotions and
behavior to a positive outcome?
Internationally known psychologist and
best-selling author, Daniel Goleman, says this
about leaders with self-control: “Reasonable
people–the ones who maintain control over their
emotions–are the people who can sustain safe,
fair environments. In these settings, drama is
very low and productivity is very high. Top
performers flock to these organizations and are
not apt to leave them.”