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Why we need happy leaders.

How many of us have experienced leaders who have thought one thing, said another thing, and did an even more different thing?

Mahatma Gandhi said: "When what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony…" - this state he called: "happiness". His full quote goes: "Happiness is, when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony."

I want to see this harmony in my leaders. I believe, the world would be a better place, if we would see this in all leaders.

In principle, this means, I want our leaders to be happy.

If leaders are happy, they are aligned in their thoughts, their intentions, their promises and their actions.

With Positive Parivartan, I have made it my mission to inspire good hearted decision making. Maybe it doesn't lie in my power to change the behavior of current leaders, maybe it is not in my power to make our current leaders take goodhearted decisions, that benefit society.

I do believe, however, that I have the power to inspire good hearted decision making to all future leaders!

Today's blog entry is about how happy leaders can lead our world to one where compassion and integrity become the core values of our society.

I am going to describe, that even though the news are overloaded with negative topics, there are some things that we can be happy about. There is some progress that we can see, if we want to. I am also going to lay out why it is important that our leaders are happy and take care of their mental health. Only if our leaders are happy, can we even think about a world filled with compassion, integrity and good hearted decision making.

Why there are some things to be happy about

There is hardly a moment where some good news is shared in any of the headlines. This might raise the question: How are leaders expected to be happy with all the darkness we have in this world?

There are always two sides to a coin, so how we see the world, matters.

If your objective was to run 10 miles, and you only made 9 miles, you might feel frustrated and unhappy, but you can chose to be happy about running 9 miles, rather than 0 miles.

It is a matter of perspective.

Hans Rosling is a Swedish physician, academic and author of "Factfulness", a #1 Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestseller. In his book he walked the reader through a new perspective of the world.

He describes that, "it turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think".

For all future leaders, I highly recommend to study this book.

Here just a few sneak peaks from the book: Did you know,

  • that in the last 20 years, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty worldwide, has almost halved?

  • that 80% of the world's 1-year-old children today have been vaccinated against some disease?

  • that around 80% of people in the world have some access to electricity?

  • that the life expectancy of the world population is around 70 years?

This doesn't show that the world is a perfect place, but the Gapminder Test on will surely surprise you.

Companies like Positive News, the Good News Network, The Optimist Daily and the Uplifting Stories segment of the BBC are initiatives where good news is broadcasted with the mission to spread more positivity, lightheartedness and fresh perspective's on the world's progress. People can be doing all sorts of positive impact - without communication and support from these organizations their impact will always remain limited.

Why happiness is essential in all leaders (and everyone else)

I believe every person has a passion for something. If every person follows their passion, they will be successful, because their passion is what they are good at. Some people have a passion for leading - it is important that these future leaders follow their passion and stay true to themselves. External factors will always want to pull you away from your true path, because so many people know better than you do.

In a TedX Talk from Hult London, Professor Shaheem talked about how people have lost the connection to their core. She talks about the "one attribute, that is not directly taught, is our ability to self examine and self reflect".

Her talk is called "This Talk Will Change Your Life!" and without taking too much away from the video, I highly recommend for you to watch it. This Talk Will Change Your Life! | Samineh Shaheem | TEDxHultLondon

UC Berkeley "Greater Good Magazine" says, that researchers define happiness as having two components: The first component is the positive emotion. This can be, for example joy, contentment or love. The second component is the sense of satisfaction in life, in regards to where you are heading and the level of contentment you have.

Many life coaches, trainers, motivational speakers talk about various methods to "practice" happiness. The truth is, that happiness is already in the core of our being. Letting go of all the opinions of others, the external influences and what you think your life is supposed to look like based on other people - that's the space where you find happiness. That space is inside of you.

The Greater Good Magazine from UC Berkeley also shows other data that proves happiness is essential in all leaders:

"Happiness is good for our health: Happy people are less likely to get sick, and they live longer.

Happiness is good for our relationships: Happy people are more likely to get married and have fulfilling marriages, and they have more friends.

Happy people make more money and are more productive at work.

Happy people are more generous.

Happy people cope better with stress and trauma.

Happy people are more creative and are better able to see the big picture."

Who doesn't want to be happy now?

Ralph Marston once said, "being positive in difficult times is not naïve - it's leadership." If we want to see a better world, we need to see this kind of leadership in our future politicians and in our future CEO's.

For all future leaders reading this blog entry, I highly recommend to research on how you can be happy and follow your passion. Inc has written an article giving 10 suggestions on how to find and practice happiness:

  1. Exercise: 7 minutes could be enough

  2. Sleep: You'll be less sensitive to negative emotions

  3. Spend more time with friends or family: Money can't buy you happiness

  4. Get outside more

  5. Help others: 100 hours a year is the magic number

  6. Practice Smiling: reduce pain, improve mood, think better

  7. Plan a trip: it helps even if you don't actually take one

  8. Meditate: Rewire your brain for happiness

  9. Move closer to work: a short commute is worth more than a big house

  10. Practice Gratitude: Increase happiness and satisfaction

You can not pour from an empty vessel: self care is essential to ensure happiness is truly embedded in you. This is just an example of advise that is out there to help you find your happiness.

This is important: a good heart is a light heart. Walt Whitman said, "Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road. Healthy, free, the world before me."

Happiness is essential in all leaders, because they are the ones that take decisions about everyone else's life - they are the ones that have the power to influence everyone else - they are the ones that can initiate positive change - they are the ones that can create an environment, where happiness is taught and nurtured by all. If our leaders don't have happiness embedded in themselves, how can they create an environment and accordingly take decisions the spark happiness in everyone else's lives?


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