After a near-perfect Florida weekend with family, friends, good food, productive work and adequate relaxation, I awoke this morning with new energy and new insight.
Thanks to my husband, the cluttered garage is now organized. I relaxed with our extended family under massive oaks in our family compound. I caught up with dear friends. I worked on an important business project. I transplanted some azaleas, and my husband and I discussed plans for the future as we listened to beautiful music and shared glasses of wine.
When I awoke this morning, I realized my weekend included the perfect mix of things that make my life worthwhile: relaxation, relationships and sense of purpose—nearly all the things that make me happy and contribute to my sense of well-being.
This realization prompted me to spend a few minutes revisiting the idea of work-life balance and finding some articles that address the topic. In my search, I found that Nicole Fallon offers female executives and “mompreneurs” ideas on How to Achieve Work-Life Balance. Chad Brooks presents 7 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance. Eric Barker in a Time Psychology piece outlines< How to Achieve Work-Life Balance in 5 Steps. Each author takes a slightly different approach with some similarities and some differences between them.
In the end, however, I decided the issue is not just finding work-life balance; it is finding happiness.
As we caught up with friends yesterday, we talked about a PBS special called Happy we all happened to see recently. That film and the discussion lead me to believe that the search for work-life balance is another way to talk about searching for happiness.
According to the film and a PBS series called This Emotional Life, people are happy when they nurture strong relationships, when they set priorities about how to spend their time, when they experience gratitude for what they have, and when they maintain a positive attitude about current and future events.
Happiness is making intentional choices about being present and how to spend the limited time we have. It is being in touch with mission and purpose.
Happiness is a choice. Work-life balance is a result of that choice.
After careful thought, my recipe for genuine happiness includes the following 5Ls: living, loving, learning, laughing and leading.
- Living — experiencing people, places and events with mindfulness, gratitude and intention.
- Loving —genuinely sharing time and space with people who bring joy to your life.
- Learning—exploring new ideas and adopting new skills that add to each of the other ingredients.
- Laughing — feeling and promoting lightness and finding humor in all kinds of experiences.
- Leading — having a purpose and working with others to accomplish that purpose (to design and build a better future.)
For happiness to exist, each ingredient must be present in varying quantities at different times. If one ingredient is missing, a happy person intentionally finds activities to add it to the mixture. Like leavening agents, each ingredient interacts with the others to make the mixture richer and more enjoyable.
I focus on leadership. It is my passion. However, I see that leadership is about life, and life requires meaning and purpose, all of which promote and depend on happiness.
This discussion prompted creation of my slide presentation, The Five L's of Happiness. You are invited to download and use it under Creative Commons guidelines: With attribution, No Derivatives, Noncommercial. Members are granted permission to use for both personal and professional audiences for a large part of our content. They are not granted sales authority.
Are you clear on what ingredients are important for you to have the happiness you desire? Are all these ingredients present in your life? Are they available in the quantities your want them to be?
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Featured image: Lyn Boyer