While I joined the sessions and celebrations this week, one word came to mind: happiness. But not happiness as a destination or even as a journey—happiness as a state of mind.
There’s a great Chinese proverb quoted in the book, “The Giving Way to Happiness: Stories and Science Behind the Life-Changing Power of Giving.” As the ancient saying goes, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
Modern science underscores the idea that we all look for happiness around us, but the truth is, happiness is found in other people. More than 20 years ago, researcher Allan Luks introduced the world to the concept of a “helper’s high” after studying how people who had helped others through giving their time and/or by donating their money experienced a “euphoria” similar to that felt after completing a rigorous physical challenge. Then in 2008, Professor Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia conducted an experiment to prove that spending money on others causes greater happiness than spending money on ourselves. She gave participants in her study an envelope with either a $5 bill or a $20 bill and told them to spend the money by the end of the day. Some participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves, some were told to spend it on others, either by purchasing a gift or by making a charitable donation. Participants who spent the money on someone else reported greater levels of happiness than those who spent it on themselves.
As these studies prove, when we give happiness away, we get even more happiness in return.
Remember those Leadership ABCs I published in a blog post a few weeks ago? Letter “K” stood for kindness. Exercising kindness toward others, no matter how small the act, is always the right thing to do. As you go about your day, uncovering ways to enhance someone else’s life will in turn enrich your own. The “helper’s high” you receive from making someone else happy strengthens your happiness and positive mindset.
In the name of exercising kindness, I’ve been helping with a virtual event to benefit the Sunshine Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to children with cancer. On Aug. 19, grab your dog and join us for the first-annual Walk-N-Wag. The virtual event will be a community of walkers who want to make an impact…together. It’s an ideal example of creating happiness for others, which will bring a renewed sense of happiness to your own state of mind. This particular event is raising money to help provide a variety of programs and positive group activities, free of charge, for pediatric oncology patients across North America.
So, what’s the message? Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” And Jack Welch famously explained, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” No matter what you do to help, you’ll quickly realize the act of selflessness improves the self.
This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.