How are happiness and productivity related? If you want to improve productivity, look no further than your mindset. Marcus Aurelius reminds us: “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
People who enjoy what they do are far more productive than those who do not have passion for their work. Have you ever been so engrossed in what you are doing that when you look up, you discover hours have passed in what seems like minutes? Such joyful immersion is key to productivity. Denis Waitley reminds us, “Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.”
A common trait shared by successful people is an awareness of the “thought-trails” in their lives. Much like a physical trail cut through a meadow after years of use, thought-trails can actually force you to continue thinking the way you’ve always thought.
How you think is often more important than that you think, or even what you think. The characteristic separating the good from the great, the highly successful from the folks who are just getting along, is their ability to think about themselves as successful even while on the journey to greatness — however “greatness” is defined for you.
An important skill is to think without acting: To plan. What do you want to be known for? What do you want to do? What is possible? Change begins with what you tell yourself and others. Change your outlook and you change what is possible.
Listen to what you are saying. Are you speaking in positives? “We’ve come through worse than this before so I know we’ll be fine in the end.” Or negatives? “Sure the sun is shining now, but the forecast calls for more rain by the weekend.”
Here is a 15 minute exercise to determine how you are thinking now so you know what is working, and what might need updating. Respond honestly to the following prompts:
- Life is…
- Money is…
- Coaches are people who…
- Goals are…
- Work is…
- Organized people are…
How you respond gives you a window into how you see the world. Below are responses I’ve received from others who have done this exercise:
- Life is good / Life is hard
- Money is what I use to create opportunity. /Money is the root of all evil.
- Coaches are for people who are moving. / Coaches are for people who have money.
- Goals are necessary to achieve more. / Goals are nice, but I am always busy enough.
- Work is what I do to express myself. / Work is never over.
- Organized people are productive. /Organized people are anal-retentive.
Do you have a perspective on a certain aspect of your life that might be worth changing? Improvement doesn’t mean something is wrong to begin with. It indicates a move toward something new and possibly better.
I love what Benjamin Disraeli said: “Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.”
This article first appeared on Entrepreneur.com on 24 September, 2013.