The Personal Happiness Formula for High-Achieving Women in Business - Christine Kane

We were dying.  All of us. Collectively experiencing a most brutal end.

I kept my gaze forward, knowing that even a slight sideways glance meant that I’d witness the suffering of my neighbor.  From behind me, there was a grunt.  In front, a slight groan.

And then, when we each thought we could bear no more, the woman who caused this pain gave us our next assignment.

She told us to rest.

With exhales, slaps and grunts, all arms in the yoga class collapsed out of the pose.

Then she gave us one of those blissful yoga-teacher looks.

Calmly she encouraged us to use that moment to do the opposite of what we were each doing.

She told us to smile.

She said that in life, when you’ve completed something challenging or painful – whether that challenge is exercise, yoga, firing an employee, losing a client, or your first time speaking on stage – to take a moment to break out into a huge celebratory grin.  This teaches your body to associate challenges with good feelings.

In other words, when you keel over panting and groaning, you are essentially telling your body this:

“Omigod! That sucked! We barely made it by the skin of our teeth!”

And your body says in response: “Hated it! Let’s never do that again!”

So, when the next challenge shows up (which it always will), your body makes that same association, which may or may not look like one of the following:

Dread.

Cramps.

Fear.

Angst.

Paralysis.

Pain.

The runs.

(I added that last one for a special friend of mine.)

But when you smile?

You train yourself to love the process and embrace the challenge.

And even though it feels 100% goofy, it kinda makes sense, no?

That’s because when it comes right down to it, happiness is a lot about training.

People seek happiness. And it’s always this big holy mother-ship nebulous idea of happiness.  Have you noticed?

But what always kicks the butt of the big holy mother-ship nebulous idea of happiness are all these simple practices that do one elegant thing:

Shift how you’d normally think about it. Change the culturally-accepted way of looking at it.

Implement all the habits you can to trick the ego into telling a whole different story than the heavy serious painful story it wants to believe.

Think about your business, for instance.

At first, you dream and dream of crossing the $75,000 mark.

Then you do.

Then you tell yourself that $150K would be awesome.

Then you reach that.

Then you think, well $500K would REALLY be hip.  Then, it’s been there done that.

In other words, there’s always another goal to reach. Your ego will always focus on where you are not.

But the thing is – no matter how fast you walk towards the horizon – you’re never going to ARRIVE at the horizon.  That line where earth and sky meet will always be out in front of you.

In spite of what my desire-resistant Buddhist friends tell me, I happen to think that this is the coolest thing about goals. There is no “there!”  (And, oh yeah, if there were?  I can tell you one thing, friend. You’d be bored out of your mind within 3 hours of arriving.)

So, then, as world-changing, passion-craving, bright-shiny-object-loving, wealth-creating, idea-coming-up-with, crazy ass entrepreneurial types — how do we be happy?

Well – for starters – it’s that dumb little smile.

(Try it right now. Seriously. Stop reading for a second. And just smile real big.  I promise I won’t post a photo of you doing this on Facebook.)

It’s a daily gratitude list.

(Quick. List five things you’re grateful for right now.)

Or it’s practicing mindfulness.

(Take a moment to feel yourself breathe deeply.)

Then there’s celebrating milestones.

(I’ve celebrated everything from breaking the million-dollar mark in my business to getting rejected and getting up the next day to try again.  Oddly enough, the bigger triumph was the second one.)

Now, as you read over this list, you might not feel all that excited. That’s fine.  If you’re having a grumbly day, then one kicky article isn’t going to rock your world by making you inhale deeply.  Okay. So be it.

However, when you do it again tomorrow and then again the next day and then again the next?  Well, that’s when it gets interesting.

That’s when you start to experience this build up of mojo mastery, and you notice that your usual reactions have evolved into something much more profound.  You notice that you are happy.  And – dare I say – more successful too?

Which is why, as I stood there in that raging hot yoga room that smelled like feet, I smiled like a crazy person while my arms throbbed and my heart pounded nearly out of my chest.  My own personal happiness formula is a cumulative result of large intentions, big ass leaps, new translations, focused attention, thinking clearly, thanking everything, and an unending willingness to look goofy.

What’s yours?

27 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Michele Fischer

    I love this! Your description of the horizon always being in front of us it so visual and so insightful. I realized one time when I was sitting in a coffee shop one day-middle of the day-reading a book waiting for an appointment. I noticed a gentleman in a suit sitting there reading the newspaper and thought, “Must be nice to have a job that lets you sit in a coffee shop during the day reading.” It was literally as if the universe slapped me in the back of the head and said, “hello look at you!!” We often can see that more often than not-we have what we seek but have been too busy looking forward to realize it. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Jeane Watier

    Congratulations! You have been chosen for the Versatile Blogger Award for 2012 by http://jeanewatier.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=642&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

  • Stephanie

    Hi! I just found your site (I forget from the blog that had your link) but I love your blog and thank you for the beautiful song & e-book when I signed up for your newsletter. Have a great day!

  • Farnoosh

    Dearest Christine, not only am I a yoga fanatic and use my lessons from yoga in my personal development blog, I have actually been to the bikram hot yoga studio in Asheville IF that’s where this wonderful experience of yours took place.
    My formula is to follow my heart, listen to the inner voice that sometimes says I need to stop what I thought would work and I need to not heed the advice of those that love me because I and ONLY I know what is best for me, and that formula has been working brilliantly for the last 2 years. You are brilliant, Christine. My friend and I wanna come to your next event and I am about to email your assistant to find out when that might be! Thank you for being YOU!

  • Anna

    Great post! And so true! I attended a leadership talk last night that ended with everyone in the place breaking boards (really…there are pictures on FB). And the point of this was to teach us not to focus on the obstacle but to look past it and focus on the eyes of the person holding the board. There was no way to succeed if you looked at it! So today, I am way past the boards I’ve been seeing….and cranking it out!

    • Christine Kane

      I like the image of “seeing past the board.” I’d never heard that before. (Did you break yours???)

  • Janelle

    Thanks Christine! I really needed to hear this today. I’m smiling. And challenged. And smiling. And challenged. After all, challenges make us grow, and this is my year of growth. I’m going to smile at the gym tonight too.

    Cheers,

    Janelle

  • Lynn Ruby

    Absolutely stunning! Thank you Christine.

  • Velina Brown

    Great one Christine. Thank you.

  • Shannon Bednowicz

    Thank you so much Christine! It’s amazing how what you need to hear shows up when you need to hear it. Like most of your readers (based on the comments I’ve read), I’m quite a happy, positive and upbeat person. Today, I let a silly situation that did nothing more than rob me of sleep (granted, sleep is in my top 5 favorite things haha) affect my mood. Ludicrous! It’s so funny how things that seem obvious to us in one area of our life, we completely overlook in other areas of our life. I am an endurance athlete and after a long run, ride or swim, a race, or a particularly tough workout, I regularly and automatically celebrate. Jump around, high 5 myself, woo hoo, But I wouldn’t normally think to do this following a business or life challenge. Thanks for that advice! And definitely stay goofy!!!

    • Christine Kane

      No matter how positive we are, Shannon – it’s so easy to get thrown off each day. It’s all just thoughts, isn’t it? 🙂

  • Susan

    *smiling*
    thank you 🙂

  • Jana Kellam

    This is such a perfect article for today, Christine! Thank you so much for always being that “little voice in my head”!

    I love the momentum that gets built up behind me every time I do that thing that scares me or that I think will look stupid or that I’m sure people just won’t get… the next time gets easier and the next time even easier. Then pretty soon, those things that used to stop me in my tracks are run-of-the-mill. Love that feeling!

    At the core of all of this is that it is a choice to feel happy, regardless of what’s going on outside of myself.

  • Jan Wlodarski

    I LOVED this article and especially the opening paragraph! I couldn’t imagine what you were going to tell us – hilarious! And so useful and true. Now I’m trying to figure out how to plaster this on my office wall. Maybe just a painting of a big smile? Thanks Christine, once again for the great words. (And I love that you’re goofy 🙂

  • Devon Clement

    This is so perfect – I am going to use it in my yoga class tonight, as well as with my new mom clients!

  • Wendy

    Mine is that I always look for the positive in every situation…no matter what! People tell me all the time that I’m the most “hopeful” person they know! Scripture tells us that everything works together for our own good…I believe that with my whole being. And now I know that having that belief helps my ego know what to do…thanks for sharing, Christine!

  • Tina Mammoser

    Thanks for this Christine. I identified with this immediately as a patient of CBT for major depression. Something we’re taught early on is that physical actions and brain chemistry are linked. So changing one can change the other, though it’s an adaptation process. So if we smile it does change the brain reaction and for those of us with chemical issues, starts to balance the serotonin levels. Plus I always say smiling is the best way to deal with difficult conversations too, even on the phone! 😀 Smile to stay calm and rational with problem customers, people I want to say no to, colleagues I disagree with, etc.

    • Christine Kane

      … and smile when you’re driving. TOTAL state change! Thanks Tina!

  • Nneka

    I really needed this article today. Source delivered BIG TIME! I’m not an entrepreneur YET, but I “finally” hit a point in my career that I’ve been gunning for for a while. I experienced the boredom of getting to there. I approached this “finish line” with a smile. I was downright thrilled. The boredom kicked in and recently I was experiencing this menacing anxiety. Today, I decided to let it be and reminded myself that all I want is to feel better. VOILA!!! Your wonderful article.

    Thank you so much:-) For a while there, you were larger than life to me even though I started out with you.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Nneka! And all that’s required now is a big ol’ DECISION! Take those first steps to starting your business!

  • Andrea

    Thank you for sharing this Christine! I just sent out an Newsletter to my list, because I have my new website today online and give 50% on everything. I never did that, but my heart was just telling me that. When I sent it out I was terrified, really thinking what they will think, if they will stop wanting to get my newsletter, etc. Then I read your article- AND SMILED and the vulnerability has just GONE!
    Thank you!

    • Andrea

      Oh my God- I did get my first client with the biggest package ever!!! 50% but still a huge gain!