Happiness is Fearless.

Most of the time, I feel like I am on fire, completely and utterly engaged in what I am doing.   I am always in the next place, always planning, always taking steps to where I need to be.  I move through the world intuitively, relying on my gut instincts to guide me.I am a fast learner, so I am also not afraid to stop and change directions.

I am intensely aware of time and space, and I always know what I want, and generally how to get it.  And when things don’t go my way, I become impatient, but I don’t give up until I am actually finished - and when I am finished, it’s always my choice, my decision, my way. That’s the way it has to be . . . because I don’t deal with not being in control of my destiny. And I don’t like the word “no"; I like the word “how.”

Some years ago I attended the Queen’s University Leadership Program.  Leading up to the program, my family, co-workers, friends and bosses provided feedback on their experience with me.   During the week, we participated in several workshops focused on the various aspects of leadership.  I remember one man whom I saw across a crowded room who as the most CEO-est looking person I had ever seen in my life. He possessed a kind of “quietude” - a sense of curious calmness.

As it turned out, we were in the same working group, and I will never forget his words - “trust the CEO”.  The CEO is just another word for the leader - the director - the visionary.  I think of it as an abbreviation for the “Creative, Entrepreneurial, Optimistic” individual.

I was in the leadership training at Queen's to be a CEO someday. And in the days and years that followed, I followed his advice, trusting in their vision, that they could see something that I could not yet.  And in most cases, the CEO’s vision was worthy of my trust, except when the CEO was not.

The CEO’s decisions are not small decisions  . . . quite the opposite - the CEO’s decisions cause not just tremors but earthquakes.  Businesses live and die on the decision of the CEO. People’s lives change in a second on the decisions, the character and the happiness level of the CEO.

At the end of the course, I sat down with my coach - an olympic athlete / coach - who considered my profile as a leader against the profiles of successful leaders all over the world.  My scores were in the 90th percentile in most cases, demonstrating strong leadership skills, he said.

At the bottom of the assessment was the measurement of happiness.  Mine was also high.  He told me that with my natural instincts to see and perceive vision, and to make it happen through other people, the single thing that I would need to focus on would be my own happiness, because “otherwise you would be a tyrant.”

Happiness is . . . Fearlessness.

Happiness is a difficult word to understand.  It’s a feeling and a physiological response, but it’s also a result of something deeper - the absence of fear.  In my experience, fear is at the root of unhappiness:
  • A fear based person cannot be happy. Therefore a happy person is fearless.  
  • A fear based person cannot be generous, therefore a happy person is one who is generous.  
  • A fear based person cannot trust nor be trusted, therefore a happy person trusts and is trustworthy.  
  • A fear based person is self - interested, and therefore a happy person is empathetic. 

Happiness is also a result of physiological outcomes.

Happiness produces physiological changes, evident by scientific testing. Positron Emission Tomography (PET test) and functional MRI show activity in the left prefrontal cortex, which when stimulated, people feel more positive. Optimism, a contributing factor for happiness, is also linked to brain function.Within the brain, the anterior cortex and the amygdale (in the brain) become more active when we think about positive events. Research demonstrates that the neurotransmitter dopamine plays an important role in happiness because it mediates transfer of positive emotions. Happiness is also associated with lower levels of cortisol, and therefore, a stronger immune system, and less stress.Source
I am the CEO of my business, and my life.  I am the one responsible for making it work.  All the successes are mine, and so are the failures.  That sucks, but that’s the job when one choses to be the forger of the path, instead of the one to walk the path already proven. And I have never been comfortable in the back seat.

99% of the time I am a very happy person. I see happiness as an outlook but it is also a physiological outcome. So I build endorphin building activities into my life. In fact I make those happiness builders part of my job - which is why I became a yoga teacher and a fitness instructor, and why I create places to write - because those are the things that make me and keep me happy.  (And why I now own a shoe business, because shoes are psychologically proven create a happiness response.)

On days when I find myself unhappy, it’s usually pretty epic. I am not going to lie.  I don’t cry, but when I do, it’s hard to stop. I am not disappointed in people very often, but when I am it’s hard to come back from that.  My feelings don’t get hurt very often, but when I am mortally wounded, it’s epic.  When I am disappointed in myself, it’s epic.

In times like this, I come back here to my practice of writing, so that I can take a step back objectively and see what’s happening before I decide where to go next.  That step back brings me back to a place of balance . . .  A place where I feel grounded again in my purpose and what I must do.