Maybe that’s just what she looks like when she’s happy

We spent some time with an old friend recently, and something was glaringly different about her. Both visually and energetically.

Did she change her diet? Restyle her hair? Start a new career? Find love with a new partner? Couldn’t figure it out.

Regardless, it was delightful being around her, and in a way that felt refreshing to us. At the end of the evening, I asked my wife if she noticed the same. Her theory was:

Well, maybe that’s just what she looks like when she’s happy.

Have you ever noticed that glow in someone? More importantly, has anyone ever noticed that glow in you?

It’s truly a marvel of human biology. When we feel relaxed and happy, cortisol isn’t being secreted as intensely through our system, and our skin and energy follows suit, and that makes us feel even more relaxed and happy, and that starts the cycle all over again.

Makes me think of a question my colleague asks when she runs leadership training programs:

When you walk out of a room, does the temperature go up ten degrees?

Some people are really like that. Rather than injecting optimistic energy and inspiring greater joy in others, they deliver discontent and unhappiness. In their everyday state of mind, they can’t seem to summon even a shadow of a smile. Now, some people are perfectly fine with that.

Enthusiasm simply isn’t part of their value proposition. They have zero interest in being the master of morale.

In my experience, few things have taken me further in life than being the positive force in the room. It actually runs in my family. My parents and their parents alike have all modeled this trait since day one. They showed me that we don’t always have to be positive, it’s just that negativity keeps us focused on the problem, but positivity finds solutions to it.

That matters in our dealings with others. Particularly in an organization. The morale boosting value of that process is more important than the actual results it produces.

One study found that happy employees were twenty more productive than unhappy employees. They believe happiness should be an organizational policy objective that is here to stay.

And naturally, many people are frightened of this kind of emotional experience. Because happiness is really scary. It makes us vulnerable to the low peaks and the thieves of joy. That’s why we have to think of it as gift, rather than a trait.

Prager’s contrarian book on how happiness is a serious problem says that we tend to think that we owe it to ourselves to be as happy as we can be. But happiness is far more than a personal concern. It is also a moral obligation. We owe it everyone who comes into our lives, to be as happy as we can be.

This does not mean acting unreal, and it certainly does not mean refraining from honest and intimate expressions of our feelings.

But it does mean that we owe it to others to work on our happiness. We do not enjoy being around others who are usually unhappy. Those who enter our lives feel the same way.

Think about my friend’s question again:

When you walk out of a room, does the temperature go up ten degrees?

If you’re starting a new job, joining a new community, or simply trying to make some much needed upgrades in your life, show people what you look like when you’re happy. Access the glow that’s been there the whole time.

How would your energy change if you no longer needed to criticize or attack everything?


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