At the Entrepreneurs' Organization's Nerve conference a few weeks ago, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was one of the keynote speakers and he focused his presentation on happiness. Specifically, Tony explained that if you ask someone what they want out of life, it all boils down to happiness. You just need to keep asking why.
For instance, someone looking for a mate will admit that the root of his or her desire for companionship is to be happier. Business owners may superficially believe they are in business to make money, but when pushed will likely concede that they are in it for achieve some form of happiness.
Hsieh is the author of Delivering Happiness which discussed his life and entrepreneurial endeavors. He also discusses how Zappos' culture foster happiness as well as some positive psychology concepts.
In the keynote, Hsieh explained that people are bad predictors of their happiness level. Think about the many lottery winners who (after the excitement wears off) return to the same pre-winning happiness levels. Or that movie star who has fame and fortune but is still unhappy. Hsieh explained how to truly be happy. He first discussed the types of happiness: rock star, flow, and higher purpose.
Rock star happiness are the times when you are hitting it on all cylinders. Perhaps, a night when you won an award or contest. Or that perfect date. The problem with "rock star" happiness is that it cannot be sustained. It is a great experience but doesn't last over time (unless of course you are really a rock star).
The second time of happiness is called flow. This type of happiness occurs when you are immersed in an activity that you really enjoy. The type of activity when time becomes irrelevant. Think about a hobby that you enjoy or a relaxing day at the beach.
The final type of happiness involves a higher purpose. The fulfillment that one gets from doing something meaningful for others or being involved in a larger cause are examples of higher purpose happiness. Specific examples could be helping a charity raise funds, donating your time to a soup kitchen, and helping your community with some project.
Hsieh explained that most people pursue rock star happiness, then flow and sometimes (if they get around to it) higher purpose. He suggested that this pattern should be reversed. That we should pursue higher purpose happiness, then flow activities, and allow occasional rock star moments to be the gravy on top. Those that follow this reversed pattern will find themselves more content and fulfilled. Give it a try!
Matthew Weiss is an admitted business learning junkie. He reads only business books and magazines (well almost only) and attends dozens of business workshops, keynotes and panel discussions each year. In this blog, he provides quality, take-home value from "all of the above" and shares his personal thoughts and experiences. Weiss is a New York traffic lawyer and sole owner of Weiss & Associates, PC, a boutique law firm specializing in vehicle and traffic matters throughout New York State. He is also the former Global Learning Chair for the Entrepreneurs' Organization. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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