Sunday, April 21, 2024

MACKAY: Juice up your joy levels

| December 27, 2020 1:00 AM

During the holidays, we are surrounded with messages about the power of joy. But why is joy looked at as only a seasonal thing? I think it should be lived year-round, and not just outside your professional life.

So where does joy fit in the business world?

"How we feel profoundly influences how well we perform at work and socially," says my friend Randy Garn, managing partner at the High Performance Institute. "Research shows that joy is one of the best predictors of the good life we all strive to achieve."

Popular opinion holds that joy is a result of being happy. I think that's backward. Joy allows you to be happy. Happy feelings are temporary. Joy is much deeper than that. True joy is untouched by circumstance.

"Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day," said theologian Henri Nouwen.

Studies show joy can positively affect us physically and emotionally. The release of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in our brains increases feelings of elation and joy.

Poet laureate Maya Angelou said, "We need joy as we need air."

Brendon Burchard, another good friend and the best-selling author of "High Performance Habits," uses notification triggers as a way to remind him throughout the day to "bring the joy." When going through his work routine, his alarm reminds him to bring positivity to his day.

I couldn't agree more. We cannot wait for circumstances to bring us joy. We must make our own joy.

"Right now, there is so much negativity in the world," Brendon says. "People are angry and complaining. If you don't have joy, you can generate it by the way that you think and act. We are responsible for our emotions. It's up to you to generate positive emotions, and joy is one of them."

To incorporate joy in your life, Brendon cites four things that I'll expand on:

1) We have to trigger happiness. My take: Happiness is a state of mind. So are anger, sorrow, disappointment and loneliness. The mind is the most powerful tool in the universe, but you are the one who controls it. Happiness is a powerful, addictive narcotic.

2) Use humor. I believe life is too short to be serious all the time. How dull our existence would be without the potential to see the lighter side of situations. And how hopeless, too! Humor often represents hope, that the worst is behind us and better things are coming. It also demonstrates that we are able to handle what life throws our way. Life isn't always funny, but a sense of humor always helps.

3) Be helpful. In my opinion, helping people not only makes them feel better, but it also makes YOU feel better. It lifts moods and gives you a high similar to the endorphins you experience when running and competing in sports. People who do volunteer work and help others on a regular basis have a healthier outlook on life. They are more inclined to be go-getters and consistently report to be happier in life.

4) Appreciate and honor people. Give a compliment or thank someone. We all love to receive praise. Compliments do wonders for our sense of hearing. Everyone likes a pat on the back and a hearty "Well done!" Develop an attitude of gratitude.

A friend shared a wonderful message from his parish priest that helped him understand three things that might be getting in the way of a joyful life: self-pity, worry and complaining. These detractors are universal problems, not confined to any particular religion. If you recognize those tendencies in yourself, you can take action to eliminate them and make room for joy instead.

You have a choice, and I hope you can find the joy in your life not just during this holiday season but all year long. I promise you will notice the difference almost immediately. And so will those around you.

One of my favorite authors, Norman Vincent Peale, offered this gem: "Joy increases as you give it, and diminishes as you try to keep it yourself. In giving it, you will accumulate a deposit of joy greater than you ever believed possible."

Mackay's Moral: Life doesn't have to be perfect to be filled with joy.

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Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his website,, by emailing or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.