Happiness is a tricky thing to master. After all, the joy we feel can be replaced by emotions that grip us even tighter, like fear, uncertainty, anger and doubt.
In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, SUCCESS People Editor Tristan Ahumada talks to Jenn Lim about true, lasting happiness. Lim is the co-founder and CEO of Delivering Happiness, a coaching company for businesses, governments and health care systems. Together, Ahumada and Lim dissect the happiness methods in her new book, Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact.
Some of the things that make us happy may surprise you. According to Lim, the journey of becoming and staying happy isn’t a simple mission. It takes deep, thoughtful work.
Real happiness begins with you. Look inward.
“Nurture your greenhouse as you grow others.” That’s a metaphor from Beyond Happiness that Lim uses to illustrate a timeless truth: It’s easier to help others when you help yourself first.
“Most of us have a tendency to try and take care of others,” she says. “We all want to help others in some way, and then we forget about our own greenhouse.”
You are the anchor for your happiness, and that’s why Lim wants people to take care of themselves first—to nurture their greenhouse so it can grow and expand to become a joyous ecosystem.
Like planting a garden, nurturing your metaphorical greenhouse requires digging. You will have to look deep within and uncover what’s blocking your happiness.
Lim says you can start by…
- Understanding your highs and lows as mental triggers. What exacerbates those icky, negative emotions you don’t like to feel? What makes you feel consumed with joy? What are your strengths and weaknesses? These questions lead to better self-awareness.
- Getting to know your psyche. Our bodies absorb years of trauma, both physical and psychological, Lim says. It helps to rewind as far back as childhood and identify beliefs that shape our thinking. Then we can decide if those beliefs still serve us or contribute to our happiness.
Establish your values, and live them through your purpose.
Once you’ve nurtured your greenhouse a bit, the next step is identifying your values. Because to truly find happiness, you should live in a way that allows you to express your beliefs and principles.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve got my values down,’” Lim says. “‘I know what I live and die for.’ But when you actually go through and prioritize it, then you get a deeper understanding of who you are.”
Lim created the Greenhouse Model to help people, teams and businesses do just that. There are three parts of the model, which are what, how and who.
The what model asks these questions of everyone:
- What are you doing that’s beyond yourself? Essentially, what is your purpose?
- What do you believe in most as a human being?
- What are the daily actions that will move you closer to those realities?
Once you have those answers, you can move on to how and who. Those models will help you maintain your happiness within a larger community.
“The science of happiness tells us that if we have an increased level of control, autonomy and progress—we feel like we’re moving, developing, growing and essentially connecting with one another as human beings—we can actually feel that no matter what’s going on in the world, we’re increasing elements of our fundamental happiness, sustainably,” Lim says.
Take the hero’s journey.
Happiness is a feeling, but creating that emotion takes a fair amount of doing. That’s why focusing on yourself and your principles is vital in the quest for joy. Eventually, you will embark upon a journey that tests those beliefs, and coming out strong on the other side will create a sense of fulfillment. This is called the hero’s journey.
In Beyond Happiness, Lim shares two questions every hero should ask:
- What’s in it for me?
- What’s in it for all?
“We can see, clearly, the leaders who are in it for me and not for all…. It really comes back down to those leaders,” she says. “Are they going to own it? And I’m not saying you have to be in top-level positions. Every one of us can be leaders in our work and in our roles if we choose to be.”
A hero’s journey is filled with unwavering purpose, which can create mind-blowing change. Whether you’re an individual, company or nonprofit organization, such a quest has the power to create happiness for all.