Karen Greenoe

The Pursuit of Happiness

Hey guys! Karen Greenoe here! Today we are going to talk about a topic that will not only impact your business but your personal life as well. And that is the topic of true happiness. I do believe that although external factors can affect your level of happiness, true happiness starts inside of you. Happiness is a decision that needs to be made daily. In this episode, I am going to walk you through the three simple steps that I believe will help you grow into true happiness.


Now, from the outside, I know it can look like I have a bit of a Pollyanna attitude towards life. But, it was not always that way! In fact, when I was a kid, my mom very frequently told me I had quite a bad attitude and a smile was not my standard facial expression. You would never know that looking at me now! Somewhere around fourth or fifth grade, something occurred to me. Something clicked in my head that made me realize that life would be a lot more fun if I were happy. Now, I know that sounds a like really basic understanding, but it really was a huge shift in my life and I remember it vividly. Before this time, I was a stubborn and argumentative kid. I would go out of my way to be difficult and didn’t take the feelings of others into account when I would act. I even remember my teacher contacting my mom and asking what in the world had happened after I made this sudden mental shift. Overnight, I was a brand new kid! And it was nothing that changed in my surroundings. I had the same family, the same house, the same school, the same friends. The shift was inside of me. Ever since then, and it’s been over 25 years, I have made it my goal to find the happiness even in the darkest situations.


I will tell you, I am no stranger to the darker moments in life. I’ve experienced more than my fair share of grief and loss in my short time on this earth. Just three months after George and I got engaged, my dad passed away suddenly. Five weeks after our first daughter was born, my mom lost her battle to breast cancer. A meer 10 days before our second daughter was born, my father-in-law lost his battle to esophageal cancer. I have experienced a lot of loss and sorrow in my 35 years on this planet. My brother actually jokes that since he is my last living immediate relative, I’m not allowed to have any more children because he fears for his own safety! All joking aside, even through these dark times, I refuse to let it discolor my outlook on the world. 


 I will go ahead and throw this disclaimer in here as well. There is a real clinical difference between unhappiness and depression. I firmly believe in the power of therapy and encourage you if you have even the slightest concern about your mental health, to seek professional help immediately. After both of my parents passed away, I did have several sessions with a therapist and grief counselor. Aside from helping me work through my grief, it really was an incredible process of self discovery that helped me come into my own even more. I highly recommend it to everyone, even if you have not yet had to deal with a major loss in your life.


I promise that we will have a later episode that truly focuses on the power of therapy as it relates to your mental health and the strength of you as a person, but this episode is going to be focused on the choices you make to pursue happiness in your life.


Have you seen the movie the Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith? If you haven’t, run, don’t walk, to Netflix and watch it tonight. This movie is a beautiful example of how, even though the world is a tough place, true happiness can still be found.


 I’ll give you a brief synopsis here, the movie is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman. He’s invested heavily in a medical device that is inferior to other technology but far more expensive. When he cannot sell the devices, he loses everything. His wife leaves him, he loses his apartment and he and his son take up residence in a homeless shelter. But, even through the adversity that the world throws at him, he does not lose hope. He remains positive and encourages his young son to do the same. He chooses to pursue an unpaid internship with a stock broker company in order to chase a better life for himself and his son. At the same time, he is still struggling to sell the medical equipment. There is a beautiful scene where he fixes a piece of medical equipment with the last of his money. As the little lightbulb comes on on this piece of equipment, you can see the lightbulb go off in his eyes as well as this grown man breaks down in humble tears. The camera pans out and you can see his is surrounded by the dark of the homeless shelter, but the light from that tiny bulb burns through the darkness. I will admit, I cry at the scene too. It was as if that lightbulb shifted everything in his life and showed him that even in the darkest times of your life, there is hope. 


I remember watching this movie when it first came out and I sobbed. Seeing this man lose everything and then come out on the other side into true success is incredibly inspiring. Seeing how much he did with so little, at the darkest moment of his life, reinforces in my mind that if you have your head and heart in the right place, you can overcome anything.


I truly do believe that true happiness has nothing to do with the external influences in your life. Of course, it is easier to be happy when things are going your way, there are plenty of people who we would consider successful who are not happy. No amount of money or quantity of physical possessions can buy happiness. Happiness is a choice that has to start with you.


In this episode I will guide you through some practices I use every single day to bring a little bit more happiness into my life. Happiness is a choice that I make daily.


Step one: find ways to push out negativity. Negative thoughts are bound to creep into even the most positive person‘s mind. But, if you let them stay there for too long, they will set up a permanent residence and fester. I know this is a really gross comparison, But have you ever seen a picture of someone who has gangrene? The afflicted tissue starts to die and it slowly starts to creep into healthy tissue. In order to stop the spread, a limb must be amputated. So what are the negative limbs in your life? Are they relationships? Are they TV shows? People you follow on social media? What is it that is bringing negativity into your life? Once these things are identified, you can cut them out and replace them with things that will do just the opposite. Just like a negative thought and emotion spreads, so does positive thought and emotion! It is your choice which one you want to take up residence in your mind.


I recently re-read Dale Carnegie‘s book How to Win Friends and Influence people. I know some of his methods are a bit old fashioned, but one metaphor stuck out to me above all the others. In the book, he instructs the reader to think of their mind as a bank vault. When you go to make the deposit, it can either be positive or it can be negative. The more practice you have and the more frequently you deposit positive thoughts, the more likely you are to withdraw a positive thought as well. It works the opposite way too. The more negative you deposit into your mental bank vault, the more likely negative is to come out. The choice is yours. And who wouldn’t want a bank vault full of positive thought?


A big portion of this is positive self talk. How do you talk to yourself when you are alone? Do you encourage yourself? Or do you question yourself? Do you celebrate your successes or are you focused on your failures? I assure you, no one looks closer at our failures than you do. There are plenty of people out there who have not seen a single one of your failures and think you are an awesome human being.


Be kind to yourself. The more you poke holes in your confidence, the easier it will be for others to do the same. And of course on the flip side, the kinder you are to yourself, the more likely it will be for external negativity to bounce off. Pushing out negativity in all forms and replacing it with positivity will establish a solid foundation on which you can continue to build your version of happiness.


Step number two: come from a place of gratitude. I know it is so easy to focus on the things that are not going right in your life and your business. Actually, I call people out on this quite frequently! Even my sweet husband George, and he is one of the most positive people I know! I’ve gotten into the habit of asking him “what have you done to be nice to yourself today?” Focusing on the negative is a dangerous and slippery slope that is very hard to recover from. So before you start sliding down, intentionally replace those thoughts with things you are grateful for. When I catch myself focusing on things that are not going right in my life, I take a step back and check myself before I wreck myself! Focusing on the negative can do just that. It can wreck your self confidence and your ability to be grateful. Instead, I take a moment to remind myself of all of the things that are going well in my life. I have a wonderful and loving family. I have a beautiful home. I built a business from the ground up that supports my family. There are so many things to be thankful for. 


I do try to write down the things I’m grateful for, but it doesn’t always happen. I did start out with the best intentions and have a pretty pink gratitude journal in the top drawer of my nightstand. I know that by having my gratitude in writing I am doing a service to my future self. I will be giving myself something to look back on to remember the things that were going right in my life. But, I will admit, I am bad about keeping up with it. I’m working on it! Just trying to be real and live up to my “progress, not perfection” motto!


Gratitude should be shared too. Tell other people that you are thankful for them. Write notes of thanks to people who have supported you. Remind them that they always have a place in your mind and your heart. That simple act will make more of an impact than you would ever know. Even a simple “thank you so much!” with kindness in your eyes to the teenager at the grocery store who helped you find those obscure sundried tomatoes that you love makes a difference. Every act of thankfulness and gratitude brings just a little more light into the lives of the people you touch.


The last part of gratitude is giving back. I share on this podcast all the time how important it is to share your time, talents and treasures. We are given so much in this life that we owe it to the universe to give back. There are so many ways to give back that have nothing to do with donating money so I encourage you to look for ways every day that you can lend a helping hand to those around you. Whether its a listening ear to a friend who’s going through a tough time or bringing food to a community pantry, if you live in a place of gratitude, giving will come naturally. Feel free to get as creative as you want with your giving!


When our oldest daughter turned one, we had a big old birthday party at our house. The smash cake, the photo booth, slews of friends and family, the whole nine yards. But one thing I knew we didn’t need from this whole party was more toys. Since she was too young to know the difference (we totally can’t get away with this now!) we asked our guests to not bring presents. Instead, we asked them to bring party supplies. Paper plates, streamers, cake mix, candles, favors, etc. It was so fun seeing how creative people were with their gifts! After the party, we put together birthday party kits to take to our local community help center. We were so blessed to have the means to throw this big ole birthday party, but we knew there were many families that didn’t have that luxury. This was our way of giving back and giving families the ability to celebrate with their children.


Step number three: spread your happiness! Now that you’ve built up this base of positivity and happiness, it is time to share! Did you know that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with? It’s true! We all have that one person that always charges us up after we hang out with them. Be that person! Be the person that pulls people up, not the one that drags them down. 


Find simple ways every day to spread kindness and happiness. Make eye contact with your waitress at dinner as you thank them. Smile. Give genuine compliments. Strike up positive conversations with strangers, but not in a weird way. Remember that a flame never grows dimmer by lighting someone else’s candle. Instead, the whole room gets brighter and brighter. Share your flame. Spark happiness everywhere you go. 


So to recap, my three steps to fostering more happiness in your life are:


Step one: push out negativity and replace it with positivity.

Step two: come from a place of gratitude and thankfulness. 

Step three: share your happiness with the world!


Thank you for tuning in today and I hope this episode has helped you create a roadmap to more happiness in your life.


Before we sign off, I want to remind you that you do have the power to make a difference in your community. Giving of your time, talent and treasures is so incredibly important. So, to put our money where our mouth is, the Biz Balance Podcast will be partnering with a new initiative in our community every month. For every new subscriber and iTunes review, we’ll make a donation to that organization. This month as we kick off the school year, we will be helping support an initiative called Backback Meals. I was absolutely shocked when I found out that more than 30% of the students at our local schools are on a free or reduced lunch program, and many of these students go without food when they are not at school. In partnerships with our local schools, the Backpack Meals team sends students home with their backpacks filled with nutritious food every Friday. To learn more about Backpack Meals and the other initiatives we support, please visit karengreenoe.com/giveback. And always, thank you for listening to the Biz Balance Podcast! I will see you next time!


September 27, 2019

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Karen Greenoe