Top Three Ways To Make Happiness A Life Discipline

Top Three Ways To Make Happiness A Life Discipline

I just spent a day leading twelve CEOs in a session on how to be happier and I want to tell you about it. Two months ago, I got a call from someone who leads a group of high-powered CEOs that meet together monthly. Every year she asks them each individually “What do you want me to hold you accountable to this year?” To her surprise, half of them said, “Ask me if I am happy?” This past weekend in Scottsdale I led a four hour session with those CEOs on How to Be Happier!

As someone who has not only written about leadership but also authored two bestselling books on happiness (The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die & The Five Thieves of Happiness) it didn’t surprise me to hear that these leaders felt they needed to focus on happiness. Most of us, especially successful people, are undisciplined about happiness. We have lots of discipline in our career, work and financial lives but most of us leave happiness up for chance. If I asked most people what their “happiness” plan is, they wouldn’t have a clue.

We have rarely been taught how to nurture and sustain happiness even though there is a great deal of research that shows us how. Each year I give numerous talks on happiness often at large conferences and leadership gatherings.

Here are the Top Three Things I teach top CEOs and organizational leaders about Making Happiness a Life Discipline.

Understand Your Own Happiness

Every day when you find yourself feeling happy be aware of what is happening inside and outside. Start to keep track of it. We can’t replicate what we don’t understand. I play a lot of tennis and my coach is always telling me “Keep staying aware of why you win a point and why you lose it.” By staying aware to what is happening we can make changes. Take a few weeks and keep track of when you feel happy and when you don’t. Ask yourself,  “How can I increase the things that bring me happiness and decrease those that make me unhappy?”

Make Sure You Have Happiness Rituals

For years, I have taught organizations to focus on disciplines and everyday rituals that drive culture. These include things like starting meetings with appreciation or reading the mission statement at every stand-up. Our personal happiness is also driven by rituals. Here are two simple ones that work for me as examples. At the end of every day before I go to sleep I ask myself, “What am I grateful for today?” At the beginning of every day I ask, “What am I looking forward to today?” Every day those rituals force me to focus on gratitude and on the days when I don’t know what I am looking forward to, it’s a signal to re-think my day!

Pay Attention To The Happiness Science

In my corporate programs, I help people understand the emerging science of happiness. Research has shown some clear things that drive happiness. Here is one of my favorite findings: Researchers at Harvard wanted to know if there was an amount of time each day that one needed to devote to activities that make you happy. It turned out that as little as twenty minutes a day doing something that makes you happy can change your whole day! To my surprise, many busy people respond to that fact by telling me, “Wow, many days I don’t even have 20-30 minutes devoted to an activity that brings happiness.” Turns out just like vitamins, the key is getting that constant dose every day. One of the things I do is on a day when I am going to be super busy, I ask myself, “Where is my twenty minutes today?”

I really enjoy working with CEOs to cultivate happiness. In fact, being with this recent stellar group of leaders in Scottsdale made me really happy, and set the mood for a buoyant and happy week on my speaking tour.

To get you started on your happiness journey, here is a video from me with some more simple ways to be happier every day.


Dr. John Izzo has spoken to over one million people, advised over 500 companies, authored nine best-selling books, and helped some of the world's most admired companies. He has been a pioneer in creating successful businesses and emerging work trends for over twenty-five years.

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