Discovering Happiness: Life-Changing Advice That You Need

happy smile

In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful,
but gratefulness that makes us happy. –
David Steindl-Rast 

The whole business world has gone ‘lean’ crazy. Lean Startup, lean UX, lean branding.

If you are not aware of it, then I’m pleased to be the first to give you a nudge to its existence.

So very quickly what is lean startup or what does a lean business model look like? Well ‘lean’ is not a thing, it is a system or philosophy. Lean or agile development means less wastage of our time and resources, and the best business ideas will get the attention they deserve.

Where as the ideas which look great on the face of it BUT do not enhance a service or product in the eyes of its customers are spotted and dropped FAST. ‘Fail fast’ and ‘build products that people care about’ is the holistic mantra.

Ok, so you got the idea. What has this got to do with being more mindful and grateful in order to attain a higher sense of self awareness and happiness? Well ‘lean’ or ‘agile’ thinking represents a fabulous method for us to speed up our personal discovery and find out what makes us happy – long term.

blessings quote


Happy Moment Each Day

A recent happiness meme called #100HappyDays reached its height in and around March/April of this year (2014). It involved signing up for a challenge and expressing a happy moment each day for 100 days continuously via text and photo sharing. It is still going strong on twitter and Instagram, so don’t count it out yet. Anything this positive going viral is a great for all of us.

At the heart of this lean philosophy is rapid experimentation and prototyping. This happiness meme represented a super concentrated AND consistent exercise for each challenger to record their happiness and gratitude. #100HappyDays provided a great challenge platform to test ourselves and our commitment to how motivated we are to remain positive. What it lacked was an effective feedback loop to match though. Launching our happy moments into vast social networks all doing the same means that only the novel, well curated or most connected of us will ever see any fast or useful feedback at all. Likes and retweets.

So good try, but no sugar…

What we need is to use what we know about lean thinking and apply it to our personal happiness. Acting out in random directions with no proper plan or strategy is fun to begin with. We discover a lot about ourselves, what we like and what we could do without. Unfortunately though our experiments could go very cold very fast if we don’t see or feel any improvement. What we are missing is a solid feedback loop for ourselves to ourselves which validates what we have learned about ourselves. Sounds a bit geeky right? Sure it does 😉

The process for lean thinking involves designing controlled experiments. First we create a situation which is testable and declare what we expect to learn from it. This reinforces our commitment to the task at hand – in this case, our happiness. Curiosity is a powerful intrinsic motivator.

Let’s Experiment

So this experiment might be: ‘I heard that sleeping for 7-8hrs a night has positive effects on our mood and happiness. I will commit to a 2 week long experiment to see if my energy levels are enhanced and how this makes me feel as a result’. Or, ‘I hear that being more mindful and grateful has a huge effect on my ability to see more good in my life, no matter what. Let’s test that!’

As part of our thesis, we must learn to predict how it might turn out. Then measure the results on a regular basis. The next part is carrying out our plan. This takes willpower and motivation. If you envisage a better more optimistic and centred version of you at the end of your journey, then this is reward enough for some. BUT, we are more likely to carry through with our experimentation as per our promise if our motivations go beyond, WAY beyond ourselves.

You see, unfortunately we are all too worried about how we appear to others which forces us to prioritise their feelings above our own – even perfect strangers. On the surface anyway.

So a good expectation for a Lean Gratitude project is to focus on perhaps making our partner smile more. As a result of my eating more vegetables, my goal is to become more positive and help make my wife, hubby or daughter smile more. Pretty soon, those vegetables become ‘happy food’ and you have the intrinsic motivator you need to continue to be at your best!

Currently we are all being inundated with new ideas on what we can do to feel happier. There are so many concepts to pursue and test that it’s not surprising that we freeze in the face of all this information.

Lean gratitude is not a new ‘thing’. It’s a philosophy. Take what you have learned already and apply it in a meaningful way. Test it and learn. Pretty soon, your customer – that’s you by the way, will be very satisfied.

Please, contact me and let me know what you plan to test and how you get along.