As a leader, we are often called upon to be all things to all people.  Sometimes the most important thing we can do is to simply bring some joy into the lives of others.

Over the past few years there has been a great deal written on the subject of happiness. Martin Seligman, a pioneer of Positive Psychology tells us that happiness has three dimensions that can be cultivated: 

  • The Pleasant Life – Where we learn to savor and appreciate basic pleasures such as companionship, the environment and our needs and desires.
  • The Good Life – Where we discover, and subsequently employ, our unique virtues and strengths to enhance our lives.  
  • The Meaningful Life – That stage of our life in which we find a deep sense of fulfillment by employing our unique strengths in contributing to the happiness of others (Remember this point!) 

He shares, “The very good news is there is quite a number of internal circumstances under your voluntary control. If you decide to change them (and be warned that none of these changes come without real effort), your level of happiness is likely to increase lastingly.

Another Penn professor, G. Richard Schell, of the Wharton School has studied the link between success and happiness. In his book Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success, he provides us with an important lesson on the relationship between success and happiness; “When everyone around you agrees on what success means, it is all too easy to join them. And if you allow others to define your goals for you, then you will end up being successful and holding a prize you did not choose and do not want.” What happiness is there in that? 

The research is abundant and tells us that happiness is a personal journey, with varying forms and stages through which we will all pass. Then there is the “ Wise Angel’s” simple definition contained in Schell”s book, “Happiness is just three things: good health, meaningful work and love. You have that, you are happy!” That being said, I’m going to ask you to stop worrying about happiness this week and consider something else, being a purveyor of joy.

I recently read, “Joy wakes the senses, evokes emotions, movement, and happiness. It ignites passion, sparks creativity, and brings people together.”  Ingrid Fetell Lee is a Brooklyn-based designer and writer whose work focuses on the way that design affects our health and happiness. In a recent interview she discusses her new book, Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. She initially considers the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is something we measure over time. Joy is about feeling good in the moment, and it really about these small and simple moments. She continues with an interesting idea. As children, we found joy in the word around us, but as we get older we are pressured to put these things aside. To grow up and take life seriously, to act serious, and look serious. To adopt that adult bias of seriousness, cynicism, coolness and distance and abandon those childhood qualities of exuberance, enthusiasm and vibrancy; those very things that bring us joy

So here is the challenge for this week. We’ve all met people who instantly light up a room with their joyous spirit, they’re infectious. Just being near them, listening to them or hearing from them gives us a moment of joy. Be a purveyor of joy!, just do one thing; incorporate acts of joy, kindness and/or happiness at various and meaningful points in your relationships with your customers, your employees and your loved ones and see the difference it makes. Then encourage them to do the same. 

Your actions will have a “Ripple Effect” (check out the video). Remember, bringing joy to another is the best way in the world to help them on their journey to happiness (a Meaningful Life), and it does no less for you! Just do one thing! (#JD1T)

Embrace the Challenge!