“Why are you always so serious?” That was the question that my 8-year-old daughters (yes, both of them in unison) asked me last weekend. “You never laugh or act silly. You only do serious things and you always seem frustrated.”
Now I like to be selective in the feedback I take in and don’t always see the two of them as a reputable source. But this feedback hurt a little. Serious?! I’m not serious! I’m fun! I’m silly! I’m funny! At least I used to be.
The rest of the weekend this feedback had me doing a level of self-analysis that I’m not sure is recommended if not under the direction of a therapist or coach. At first, I tried the defensive approach. They are wrong. I am funny and I am only serious when I need to be. But then I realized that isn’t true. They are right. I’m most always serious and rarely fun.
Then, I thought back on another occasion when I was busy trying to get the kids out the door for school in the morning while sneaking a peak at my phone to deal with an important email I was expecting. Everyone was talking to me at once. Taya was telling me a story about who knows what and I gave a little laugh and kept moving. She immediately called me on it:
“Why don’t you ever use your REAL laugh anymore?”
“My REAL laugh?” I replied. “What’s that?”
“Honestly,” she said, “It’s been so long, I don’t even remember.”
Sadly, I’m not sure I remember either.
It’s Not Just Me
And while this revelation caught me off guard, I shouldn’t be surprised. I hear this kind of feedback from women in the workshops I deliver all the time.
I forgot how to have fun.
I don’t remember the last time I did something for me.
I’m not happy anymore.
It’s devastating to hear these kinds of things from smart, powerful, hardworking women on a regular basis. Just as devastating to realize it yourself.
Savoring the Good
As women, so much of our identity gets rolled up into being a mom or climbing the corporate ladder or both. Like the women I work with, I’ve found myself lost between the titles of Mom and CEO. Now, don’t get me wrong, I cherish these titles… especially the first one!
But I also know I show up as my best self at work and at home, when I make time to fuel myself with positive energy, to disconnect from work, to spend time skiing or having a dance party with my kids — that’s when the real laugh really comes out.
This International Day of Happiness, I want to remind you, amidst the busyness of life, not to forget about yourself.
Research suggests that happiness is driven by the frequency in which we experience positive events, not the intensity of those feelings. So we can’t just put our heads down and push on through, waiting for big-occasion happiness, like family vacations or a birthday spa day. We have to get better at prioritizing small joys.
Think about the little things that lift you up. And then intentionally work those moments into your day.
Everyone’s happiness habits are unique. Maybe yours is a morning latte, a good meal, or a certain pick-me-up song. There’s joy in doing a kind deed, being creative with your kids, taking some alone time or sharing a quick call with a friend.
When life turns upside down, those small pleasures are often the first to go. But those small, frequent moments of lift are the thing we need the most.
Your first step? Figure out which tiny triggers up your happiness factor. Make a list and then lean into it. Schedule it in your daily plan. Set a reminder on your phone if you have to. Focus on the vital work-life importance of keeping your joy/stress ratio in balance.
At Talking Talent, part of what our coaches do is help people, especially women and working parents, gain perspective and figure out how to get back to a place of happiness. That’s what allows people to be a better version of themselves at work and at home.
For me, I had to start being more intentional about letting go of trying to control the outcome of things at work. I had to start disconnecting from work stress so that I could get back to being me and having fun again. And when I have more fun, everything feels less stressful.
There’s a kind of momentum to happiness. Good builds on good. Stacking regular small joys builds more than positivity in your life – it builds possibility. Focusing on you builds room for more.
Help your team members get their good back. We make it possible with enterprise coaching that helps you advance positivity (and productivity), at scale.