September 2, 2009

The final intentional activity from The How of Happiness is taking care of your body.  Recall from my earlier blog that it’s these intentional activities and habits that can account for as much as 40% of our happiness.  The first intentional activity was expressing gratitude, the second was deliberate optimism, the third was to stop overthinking and comparing ourselves to others, the fourth was practicing acts of kindness, the fifth was social support, the sixth was coping with stress, the seventh was learning to forgive, the eight was increasing flow, the ninth was savoring the positive, the tenth was committing to your goals, and the eleventh was practicing spirituality and religion. 

Dr. Lyubomirsky suggests that taking care of your body can be done through meditation, physical exercise, and acting like a happy person.  Most of us can’t meditate or exercise at work, but we can act like a happy person.

Smile.  It is the easiest way to act like you are happy.  People will respond to you differently, more positively. 

Today in class I was explaining a concept and got myself tied in a knot.  A student called me on my explanation.  He knew I confused the issue, and so did I.  Thirty pairs of eyes were on me, and inside I was feeling the anxiety mount.  There was a tiny voice of experience in my head that told me this is a critical moment – don’t blow it!

I smiled. I chuckled and cracked a joke about myself. And instead of trying to escape the tension and brush off the question my student posed, I just stood silent, smiling, until I found a way out of the knot I had tied myself in.

My class smiled with me.  Almost all of them wanted to see me untie myself, and smiling with each other through those uncomfortable moments helped us work through it.

Live above your circumstances and choose to smile a lot at work today.  You will feel better, and so will those around you.

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  1. Wally Bock says:

    Great post in a great series, Bret. Our minds and bodies are so intimately intertwined that often acting happy will get you feeling happy and the easiest way to do that is to smile. You’ll find it’s hard to feel sad when you’re smiling.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Concur 100%, Wally. Happiness is a daily choice. Sometimes when things get really crazy, you have a choice to despair or laugh. Work often presents us with circumstances over which we have little control. Might was well smile about it! Thanks again Wally for sharing your thoughts. Bret

  2. Bret,

    I have so been there in the classroom. I love what you’ve been talking about because I’ve come to the same points as I get older. Forgiveness was a big one for me, especially from a nasty divorce many moons ago. But when I finally forgave my ex and myself, things just took off for me.

    Being able to smile and then humbly realize you need to “untie yourself” is huge.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Alain, I do so appreciate your perspective. Concur that forgiveness is huge. Have to also remember that I am role modeling right reactions to risk taking and failure when I am in front of an audience. It matters how I respond, and sometimes just smiling helps me get in the proper frame of mind. Thanks!! Bret

  3. Mike Rogers says:

    I have started the practice every morning at 5:30 AM when I arise to look at myself in the mirror first thing and smile, maybe even laugh. It always starts my day off great! It may seem weird to my family and others, but it works.

    I believe in our own ability to change any mood we are in.

    Mike Rogers

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Right on, Mike! My family things I’m wacko too. Not only do I wake up smiling, you might also catch me dancing – by myself. Works for me! Thanks, Bret

  4. Debra Deming says:

    If you haven’t seen it already, check out

    and “Smove!”

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Debra, thanks for visiting and commenting! I’ve never seen this site before and never heard of 212. Looks interesting. Thanks!! Bret

  5. Celeste Peterson says:

    I found this article today and thought of my ORGB class. We talk a lot about happiness in the workplace within my own organization. My CEO has done presentations on levity in the workplace. I see you have a “happiness” category on your blog and thought I would pass this along:

    It is fascinating to me how happiness and work are intertwined.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Thanks for sharing! Bret