Happiness is YOUR Responsibility
Daniel Gullo, CEC, CST

It’s that time of the year again.

THANKSgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, GIVING Tuesday…

The marketing departments of most organizations are in high gear capitalizing on the #FOMO tendencies of consumers.

The Christmas season draws people to the stores, malls, roads, etc. even though many of these stores have had Christmas oriented stuff since before Halloween.  What is interesting is that when you talk to people, they all complain about it and are full of dread at having to face the crowds.

Most of the shopping for my wife and I is done online these days; not just for big ticket items like electronics and such, but even some perishables on subscription so that they are delivered monthly and at a greatly reduced cost.  We really hate leaving the house most of the time to do shopping.

Yet, even we who are somewhat socially challenged find ourselves gravitating toward the mall, Costco, etc. out into the fray…

It seems to be a downward spiral too.

When I leave the house in the morning to do errands, I am in a great mood but a little worried about the crowds.  By the time I return to the house in the mid afternoon, I am just completely livid.  If I continue on with filling my day with activities and trying to get 18 hours of stuff done in 10, then it just gets worse.

It’s this anxiety that I think is driving the horrible moods of ALL those who go out into the world during this season; they worry about accomplishing the massive list of things they have to do and know that there is heavier traffic and people acting selfishly, etc. and then it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Do More By Doing Less

This year, I have been trying to do more by doing less.

My list of stuff I need to do is always massive.  However, lately, I have been treating it more like a Product Backlog; I make a list of ALL the things I would like to do and then pick 2-3 things that I will commit to getting DONE for certain.  That’s sort of like my Sprint Backlog.

Historically, I have also been guilty of having the Clark W. Griswold ideal of what DONE means.  They say that “Perfect is the enemy of good.”  So, rather than striving for absolute perfection in everything, which is impossible anyway, I am considering what is necessary in terms of Acceptance Criteria and other Definition of Done items for the things I need to do.  What is my MVP (minimum viable product) for the things I need to accomplish?

When I have reached that state, I reflect on it, think “This is good enough.  Moving on.”

And so maybe the answer for most people is to acknowledge the MASSIVE list of things they need to do but really just focus on doing a handful at a time well or to an acceptable level before moving on to the next handful of things?

You Are Required To Be Joyful

A while back, I read one of those Internet platitudes that I still find to be somewhat valuable and truthful.  It went something like this:

“If you have food in your refrigerator, you are more fortunate than 75% of the world who have no food or clean water…” and so on; culminating in the statement:  “If you can read this, you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who can’t read.”

I am always skeptical of the actual numbers and origin of these things but the crux of the message is sound:  there is very little that most of us in this country have to worry about.

This is another acknowledgement we need to make…

Most of us have not only a place to live, food, heat, etc. but all of these things in abundance.  In addition, we have multiple electronic devices, multiple cars, our children have multiple electronic devices, they are involved in sports, music, and other activities, and so on.

Why is it that we get upset when we can’t find a parking space that is less than 200 feet from the entrance to the store?

Why do we tailgate and not let people merge when driving around the town or on the freeway?

I am willing to admit that I get into that mode a lot of times.  There is a friend of mine who, when I first met him, I thought “What a conceited jerk.”  But over the years, I have gotten to know him and in fact, when I saw him at the Scrum Gathering in Phoenix, he shared with me that he has figured out how to classify himself:  “I am a well-intentioned asshole.  I really, really try to do the right things but I end up botching it and coming across wrong.”

Wow.  That pretty much describes me too.  I really try, but I end up like Tommy Boy trying to nurture and close a sale…

Lately, I have just been trying to pause more.  Be present.  Reflect on life in the moment and express gratitude for my basic needs being met at that very moment.  It’s working.  I am starting to feel better.  People are noticing that I seem happier.

If you have everything you need (and more), then I believe you have a responsibility to be joyful, happy, thankful, etc.  Taking a moment to reflect on our lives and assess what we truly have to be worried about, there isn’t really much.  (Especially if you are reading this post I have written, since that means you can read, have a computer, etc.)

A friend of mine was telling me the story about their friend who lives in another country in a house that is half the size of an average American home… with their parents and in-laws.  They commute 2.5 hours one way to work and 2.5 hours back from work every day so that they can support all of these folks.  AND, my friend was telling me how happy and joyful this person was with life in general.

And so, I think that we have a responsibility to be joyful; to be an inspiration to others.  Make the conscientious decision to focus on the positive.  Choose to be happy!!

I don’t subscribe to the new age philosophy that talks about things like believing in x will make x happen.  Living in Delaware, I have never opened my mailbox to find two Double-Doubles and a vanilla shake from In-N-Out waiting for me…

I do believe that if we focus on negative, we will see negative.  If we look for positive, we will see positive.  This is why we should regularly pause to reflect on our lives, express gratitude, and make a decision to be content and even happy.  In fact, I find it to be somewhat contagious.  When I have chosen to not let petty things bother me and openly make an effort to look on the bright side, I find that others around me do the same.

In generally, if you want the world to be more kind, loving, and understanding, then be more kind, loving, and understanding…  and happy.

Peace and blessings.


P.S.  I accept (and give) hugs freely!!

Also, it’s ok to say “Merry Christmas!!” to me.