In this episode, we go through the four principles you can apply to your life to generate positive outcomes and create a joyful, happy, and hopeful life. You’ll learn about the E+R=O formula, the benefits of surrounding yourself with the right people and resources, and how being aware of how you respond to things can be a game-changer.
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you may be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host. We have a great subject that we are talking about today: Happiness, joy and hope. Now, I was visiting with a dear friend recently, and in response to my inquiry on how she was doing, her reply was, “I am just so happy.” And she described all the ways that she was happy. Now, isn’t that a joyful, hopeful comment, feeling, and a place to be? Sometimes it seems like there can be so many challenges to happiness, joy, and hope — and I’m going to call those HJH. These challenges come in the form of illness, injury, death of a loved one, financial concerns, aging, climate change, the stress of rocky relationships, mistakes that you make, war, and conflict—whether personal, regional, or global, which includes the threat of nuclear war—anxiety about your team or organization, realizing your vision, dreams, and hopes, the worry over a child, grandchild, friend, or family member. You may say to yourself, how can I find happiness, joy, and hope in the middle of such a dismal and chaotic world? Where is the hope? What is happiness and joy? Well, this morning, I woke up thinking that if I were to leave one final message to my family and friends in the whole world, what would it be? Well, that message would be that the way that happiness, joy, and hope lie within you not without.
I love the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. He said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” You have within you enormous and vast potential and capacity you, in other words, serves your heart, which represents determination, courage, resolve, and grit, to move forward with happiness, joy, and hope. And your mind, which represents options, choices, and things that you can do that lead to the same outcome of health, joy, and happiness.
So, in one of our marquee Becoming Your Best courses, highlighting the principles, The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, we talk about a powerful formula that helps you realize your power of choice and to be accountable for your happiness, joy, and health. To be accountable comes down to you taking responsibility for your happiness, your joy, and your hope. And although it’s helpful to have people and organizations in your life that contribute to HJH, it ultimately comes down to you alone, taking responsibility for your HJH. To help understand that choice of responsibility for you to be the number one biggest factor in achieving HJH, here is the formula: E + R = O. So, that represents E as the event. What are all of these events we’ve just been talking about? Plus your response—that’s the R—equals the O, which is the outcome. So, the event plus your response equals the outcome. So, if the goal is to have the best outcome possible, the one variable in the formula is you — your response. And if you are free to choose your response, your response will directly influence your happiness, joy, and hope that you end up with and the types of outcomes that you and your organization get.
Listen, when an event takes place, if you’re living without, you will either be happy or miserable, depending on what others’ circumstances do to you — the event. However, if you are living from within, the world of vast potential and resources, you choose to be accountable for the response, which will directly influence the outcome. And if you are determined to respond in a principled and positive way, and not being driven by the comments, feelings, or actions of others, or even the uncontrollable, you are on your way to better outcomes and greater happiness, joy, and hope.
So, today, I would like to share four principal and positive responses that will help you deal with the balance of emotions, feelings, and moods—both positive and negative—to consistently feel happiness, joy, and hope, and to feel satisfaction for life personally, in your relationships and in work and in service to others as you go through life. These things really describe so much of what leadership is and are some of the key principles of leadership and the positive results they produce every single time. So, here are four principal responses for positive outcomes. Number one is to be accountable to yourself and others to choose your responses. These are positive, great, building, lifting responses that produce a better outcome. You are free to choose. Seize the day. You can choose your thoughts. We learn from the good book in Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” Train yourself to choose happy, joyful, hopeful, positive thoughts that lead you to your best. Surround yourself with people, with positive influences, which include people, books, music, ideas, podcasts, church groups, work associates, friends, and family that are positive and help you to build your within that leads to greater happiness, joy, and hope because your choice is to be happy, joyful, and hopeful. So, that’s number one: Take responsibility, be accountable to yourself, and you are free to choose—and you will—the positive choices. That’s number one.
Number two is to control what you can control. So, it’s fair to say and ask yourself and be clear, what are the things that I can control? And what are the things that I cannot control? And dependent on where I dwell will really produce the feelings I feel and also the results that I get. So, for example, the things that you can control is you can control your own thoughts, you can control your actions, you can control your decisions. These are things that you can control. What can you not control? Well, you can’t control others. You can’t control what they say, what they do, how they feel about you. You can’t control the weather or the taxes. You might be able to influence some of these things, but you can’t control them. You can’t control, for example, once an accident has happened, the result of that accident sometimes is catastrophic, the loss of someone that you love or an injury. So, these are all examples you can’t control the actions of another person. One of the biggest ones you can’t control, for example, is the comments they make about you. Some of these things can be really hard. But you can control what you can control. And when you focus on what you can control, it brings greater confidence, peace, direction, and a way forward. The very moment you say, “I’m just going to focus on these things.” But when you dwell or focus on the things you cannot control, it is a rabbit hole. And you can ruminate all you want and you can go through all the what is, but it’s insecure, it’s not productive, it’s not helpful, and it’s very upsetting and stressful, and it can lead to a breakdown of health. So, you have a choice here, and it gets back to number one: I’m going to be accountable and I’m free to choose. It’s I’m free to choose, and so I choose to control what I can control. And now you are on your way to greater happiness, joy, and hope.
So, we extend to people in our seminars, the invitation to take the 21-day challenge. The 21-day challenge is that you do not blame, criticize, or condemn anything or anyone for at least 21 days. What you’re really trying to do is to get in the habit to never do it again. Because the minute that you blame or criticize other people, you’re really in a world of things you cannot control, and you want to control what you can. So, the minute you do that, you’re free to move forward. I just love that. Number three is to take positive action. So, number one is we’re being accountable, we’re free to choose. And that’s exactly what we choose: we will be responsible for our outcomes. That’s liberating. Number two, we’re going to focus on controlling what we can control. So, number three, with that, let’s take action based on those things, positive action. Now, there are several things that you can do that contribute to your happiness, joy, and hope, where you can take action now and they are huge influencers. So, number one of these is to put in place in your life, the big three habits of Do What Matters Most. In other words, these three big habits that you’re just having in your life is that you have a personal life vision that’s really clear that really covers the various roles or areas of your life: personal, companionship, family and friends, work and professional, and service. So, as you can contemplate your vision, your personal vision, it gives you direction. Now you have a place for your thoughts to go. So, you go back to the Proverbs quote that we shared: “As a man thinketh, so is he.” This helps you think the right way. The second of the big habits is to have clear annual goals for your various roles that we just talked about: personal, which would be physical, mental, financial, spiritual, and taking care of yourself, the fitness part. But also companionship, family and friends, your work, and service to others. What are your annual goals for these? And this is a ritual, which now really gives you focus, and your mind will go to where your focus is.
And number three of these big habits is pre-week planning. And this is where you sit down during the weekend, take a few moments, and plan out your week according to your roles, the type that we just talked about, and what are the most important things you can do this week by each role, and then you take your calendar and merge these worlds together. You just sketch them out and there your week is in print, in front of you, doing what matters most. So, this gives you a context then, as events hit you, what kind of response you’re going to provide, which gives you better outcomes. So, that would be under this one of taking action. One of the things that you can do to take action — very powerful. These things are simple, deliberate actions that help you tap into that vast potential that you have within.
Another way you can take action is to take time to listen and understand. Listen and understand your own feelings. Have a notebook where you can write these down and journalize them and how do you feel about things you’re grateful for, and how about issues that come up and just expressing your feelings. So, you take time to listen and understand your own feelings which help come to a place of peace that provides greater happiness, joy, and hope. But also listen and understand others. This is a powerful choice and response to events. And to exercise patience and discipline to listen and understand is a game-changer and allows you to make better choices and have a huge influence on better outcomes. So, that’s a way that you can take action now and be determined just to listen to the other person and not set aside your own agenda until you understand them better. And then when the time is appropriate, it could do then or other times, then you can bring up your concerns in a positive way. I’ve been thinking about such and such, and I wanted to get your feelings on it because I think that would help us end up with better outcomes. That’s a great skill right there of how to bring up things. And a third way that you can take action now is to apply the six steps of how to effectively plan, create solutions, and take action. This is one of the books we have called “Start with the Vision.” And it’s basically six steps where you can start with any issue in your life and go to work on it and take action.
So, you think of the event and what’s the response. This provides concrete steps forward to get to better outcomes. So, very briefly, here are the six steps to effectively plan, create solutions, and take action. Number one is when you think about the challenge or a problem, shift it to the vision and ask yourself, “What is the vision? What are we trying to accomplish here?” And all sudden, that just takes it up to another level where you’re, in a positive way, looking forward to what do we want to achieve here. Number two: What is the current reality? Where are we today? So, you’re real about this, you describe where you’re at, which leads to the third one, and you’re looking to see if there’s a gap between one and two. In other words, what’s our vision? Number two, the current reality. And if there’s a gap, you go through the six steps, which is what’s the real cause of whatever the problem or challenge was? And once you understand the real issue, then it gets fun because then you can ask yourself, “What are the best options?” And you can brainstorm, you can mind map, you can come up with the best solutions, and circle the best ones. And then number five is to implement your plan, who will do what and when. And this is what helps you take action and go forward in a positive way, which leads to better outcomes, and then you can evaluate the outcome and how did we do.
So, these are three really powerful actions you can take now. Number one is having in place to Do What Matters Most habits. And number two, of course, is to take time to listen and understand. And number three is to apply the six steps to effectively plan and create solutions and take action. So, hopefully, these very specific courses forward will be helpful to you. As we do this, this leads to number four of the four principal things that you can do that help you have great outcomes. So, number one is to really seize the day and be accountable and realize you’re free to choose and you’re going to seize the day, you’re going to take that choice, you’re not going to blame or criticize. Number two is to control what you can control, what a great starting point. Number three is to take action now. And number four is to have faith and never give up.
I love the movie, Finding Nemo. There are a number of powerful themes in this movie. One is about trust. And by working together, we can get further and have greater outcomes. Another is about never giving up. I love Dory’s mantra in Finding Nemo: “When life gets you down, you know what you’ve got to do — just keep swimming.” I love that. And that is the same for you and me. When life gets you down, do the types of things that we have been discussing today and just keep on swimming. Things will work out. You can trust and have faith in a power greater than you, a power that cares for you, loves you, and has a plan for you. God’s plan which blesses us now in this life and crosses the barriers of time in the immortality that you can have faith in will be one of the greatest sources of happiness, joy, and hope, and give greater meaning to everyday lives. So, as you consider all of the challenges in life just realize these challenges can make us stronger and we can learn from them, they’re ultimately for our good. And it’s helpful to remember, E + R = O. And that your response is the variable in the formula that produces good, better, best outcomes. You have vast potential within. And therein lies the solution to greater happiness, joy, and hope. You can be accountable, you’re free to choose your responses. That’s number one. Number two: Be determined to control what you can control. Number three: Take positive action now, do what matters most, listen and understand and employ the six steps to effectively plan, create solutions, and take action. And number four is to have faith and never give up. Just keep on swimming and trust in your higher power. These will contribute today and throughout the rest of your life to greater happiness, joy, and hope. And it will influence every relationship, team, and organization that you associate with.
As you and I contemplate life through the ups and the downs and the challenges of life, may you feel as my friend described, “I just feel so happy.” There’s so much to feel happy about. This is Steve Shallenberger, wishing you all the best this day and always.