“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”
“It is fun to have fun but you have to know how.”
Always be the person in the room having the most fun.
Everyone wants to be swept up in an adventure. Understand that, above all else, people want to enjoy themselves in a meaningful way. The problem is that most people go through their lives waiting for someone or something to give them permission to have fun. These people keep their heads down, or stay “on task” until they’ve been picked to enjoy themselves. Life was not meant to be lived waiting to be happy. The time to increase your happiness is right now. Finding ways to enjoy life more will improve your peace of mind, your personal relationships, and your professional standing.
Fun Is Never Inappropriate
See every moment of your life as a chance to have fun. Look down at where you’re standing right now – that’s where the party is. Why aren’t you having fun? What insignificant future problem are you thinking about instead? You have the power to make any moment better simply by being present and by being playful. You can walk into any room and completely alter the energy and perspective of everyone in it using nothing more than your cheerful attitude. Increase your happiness to increase happiness in others. The key to yielding this power is understanding two things: one, cheerfulness is an act of will, and two, cheerfulness belongs everywhere.
Cheerfulness is a decision. You can’t wait for fun to find you, you have to find it. Find ways to enjoy life more by being present and by engaging people in what’s going on around them. Most of the time we live in our own tiny inward universe. Sometimes this universe turns into a prison cell. This happens when we start obsessing over deadlines, future problems, and things we don’t have. The only way to escape your self-made prison is by focusing outward. And the quickest way to turn your attention outward is to start having fun right where you’re at. Use cheerfulness to improve your confidence and boost your self esteem. Find ways to enjoy life more and then radiate your enjoyment. This will not only free your mind, it will help other people free their minds.
Cheerfulness belongs everywhere. Happiness always has a place at the table. Too many people avoid having fun because they think it’s inappropriate to do so. Understand that fun is never inappropriate. This is because fun brings people together. Experiments show that people are drawn to fun. One study found that the brain responds to the sound of laughter by automatically prepping the muscles in your face to smile and laugh. The study also found that positive sounds like laughter are more contagious than negative sounds like screaming. Fun is infectious. There’s never a bad time to be cheerful. Enjoyment is welcome at any occasion. Of course, there are different ways to project your joy. If you’re at a funeral, it’s better to express your joy with warmth and compassion than by telling jokes.
Happiness Buys Money
The rules of working have changed. For most people, going to work doesn’t mean putting your life on the line. In today’s connection economy, work still involves effective communication, taking action, and, most importantly, sharp decision-making. However, most of this is now done in a very safe environment. Contemporary power moves are made behind conference tables, in front of a laptops, and over lunches. Yet, the average person is having less fun now than he used to at work. A recent Gallup survey showed that over 70% of people are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from their jobs. The majority of people see their occupations as joyless activities. For them, work and play occupy opposite ends of the spectrum.
Life is work. If you want to live a happy life, you have to change the way you work and the way you define work. Work is only an obligation if you define it as an obligation. The truth is, most of us get to choose our careers. The only person responsible for the job you have right now is you. This means your occupation is not an obligation, it’s a choice. You are actively deciding to get up each day and employ yourself, so why not actively decide to enjoy your employment? Doing this will not only increase the quality of your life, it will enhance your chances of getting promoted and making money. Happiness will help you generate influence, improve self confidence, and develop leadership skills.
Debbie Downer and Oscar the Grouch are unemployed. Laughing less will not advance your career. In fact, unhappiness could hurt your career. In Every Day A Friday, Joel Osteen tells how successful companies like Holiday Inn only hire people that smile. When the hotel chain was looking to fill 500 new jobs, they interviewed over 5,000 people and automatically disqualified any applicant that smiled less than 4 times. Happiness will not only help you get hired, it will help you get promoted. A 14-year experiment by researchers at University College of London followed more than 15,000 individuals from high school to their late twenties (1994 – 2008). Throughout the study, participants filled out surveys and answered interview questions about their overall well-being and how many times certain statements like “You enjoyed life” and “You were happy” were true for the previous week. Accounting for genetics, health, education and IQ, the researchers found a clear link between happiness and higher salaried positions as adults.
Why So Serious?
Stop sacrificing your smiles. Frowning doesn’t mean you’re working harder or are more competent – it just means you’re not enjoying yourself. In college, I did a medical preceptorship at Lancaster General Hospital. A preceptorship is a program that allows pre-medical students to shadow doctors in different medical departments. Every time I started a new a round with a new doctor, the doctor would inevitably tell me to “tone it down”. Likewise, when I was getting my Ph.D. in Graduate school, I was constantly told to “be more serious” by my mentor. Throughout my entire career, whether I was working in academia or in the biotech industry, there was always someone telling me to be serious. What these people really wanted me to do was stop having fun. They wanted me to show my competence by reducing my happiness. Understand that cheerfulness is not a sign of carelessness. Numerous studies show that cheerfulness drastically enhances both creativity and productivity. This means you can have fun and be intensely focused simultaneously. It is entirely possible to advance your career and sit on cloud nine at the same time.
Protect Your Joy
Misery loves company. Very often, when other people are not enjoying themselves, they don’t want you to enjoy yourself. When these people are stressed out, they want you to be stressed out. It’s as if they want you to show respect for their bad mood or difficult circumstance by lowering your energy and walking on eggshells. Some will even go as far as baiting you into an emotional confrontation. This kind of negativity is especially difficult to deal with when it’s coming from your boss or coworker. It’s hard to have fun with someone breathing down your neck or biting at your ankles. Too often we sink down to the level of the negative people we interact with. But this doesn’t need to happen. The trick is to start seeing your happiness as a treasure chest. You wouldn’t let someone you know walk into your house, gather up all of your valuables, and leave. Yet, you’ve probably let someone you know walk into your life and freely steal your joy. Stop giving away your happiness and start protecting it.
Fight fire with brighter fire. If you find yourself stuck working with a negative person, your best course of action is to override their negativity with relentless cheerfulness. Nothing is more annoying to a negative person than someone else having fun. One person filled with happiness and enthusiasm can burn through a million negative people. This is why haters hunt in packs. The key is to stay cheerful past the point of feeling cheerful. Remember, cheerfulness is an act of will. If you continue to have fun and express your joy, most negative people will eventually leave you alone. Your second best course of action is to have a direct conversation with the negative person. Some people are immune to body language and rolling eyes. They just don’t get it. So spell it out for them. Tell them exactly how their negativity is bringing you down and affecting your performance. Then, tell them to stop. Finally, if all else fails, scram. Change your lunch hour, change departments, change jobs, or change friends. Nothing is worth the price of your happiness.