26 Oct

Happiness Applied

A good friend of mine attended my Get More Happier event last month and suggested a deeper sharing on how my research into the science of happiness has changed my life. It was a good suggestion and hard to encapsulate in a short post but here goes so hang onto your hat.

The word disciple came up in a recent visualization exercise so instead of practitioner I’ll say I’m a disciple of Positive Psychology. Finding this deep knowledge base on the research of happiness lights me up. However, this knowledge is fascinating but not impactful if not applied and if my ever-growing knowledge base is not applied to my own personal experience am I really wiser for knowing? I think I just lectured myself.

So what has shifted in my own life? The changes have been subtle, small shifts over time in some areas and bigger shifts in other areas.

#1 “Addition by Subtraction” When you can reduce the negative emotions in life and quickly recover from setbacks you build resilience. Understanding the root formation and false messages of your thoughts, what spins you out of control, and locks you into negative thought cycles is addition by subtraction.

About a month ago I walked back to my car and my mountain bike had been stolen. Instead of “woe is me” or anger bubbling up towards the perpetrator I moved on, called my insurance company and then….got my bike back in two days randomly. (Thanks Bend Police!) Life happens and wallowing in negative emotion or anger is poison and you’re the one drinking it.

#2 “Accessing the Many forms of Happiness” I honor the ever-evolving balance between joy filled moments, simple pleasures, the contentedness in between while also embracing the challenges coming from deep work that maked me grow. This mix of joyful and purposeful living is our own personal dynamic algorithm. The balance between French fries and salads, if you will. I love laughter, comedy, cocktails and improv. And yes, I like French fries and especially the parmesan peppercorn dipping sauce at The Dive. I also go deep coaching others and being coached. Deepening my skill set requires hours of training. I also put in long hours building new presentations and give my time back to my community and those in need. The purpose-filled life with a side of French fries and a small salad with extra dressing.  

#3 “The Road to Mastery is Full of Potholes” Embracing a growth mindset is a HUGE flip on how I view mastery. As an entrepreneur you wear many hats and there is risk involved and success can feel “non-linear”. Seeing setbacks as “feedback” and understanding the road forward can be full potholes and washboards. Sometimes you hit the potholes and riding on washboards isn’t pleasant. Sometimes the road doesn’t even look like a road. More like an overgrown trail with brambles and lots of mosquitoes and poor footing – and I don’t like hiking, so this metaphor feels apropos.

Many people are terrified of public speaking. I LOVE IT. And when someone says “I could never do that” they might be right but skill-building comes over time. Malcolm Gladwell famously said 10,000 hours is required to build mastery and if you hold a microphone long enough you are likely going to build some skill at it – at least I hope I have.

But pushing forward towards mastery develops control – and our brains love control –  and more importantly choices. In his book “So Good You Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newton the focus is not on passion but your talents, skills, gifts and experience and how these give you choices. And don’t we all want choices in life?


How would you rate your life? The starting point for any journey is knowing where you are and then determining where you want to go. More important than rating your life is how would you rate your effort towards creating the life you want?

Happiness is definitely a journey and understanding your own efforts towards crafting a life that brings your more French fries and salad you actually learn to enjoy. And yes, the journey towards this “created life” might put you on the pothole-ridden “Road to Mastery” so just bring a spare tire.  

Anthony Poponi is a motivational speaker, workshop host, and author of “Focus on the 40” specializing in improving team dynamics, communication and productivity for teams and individuals. His work is based on the research in the fields neuroplasticity, positive psychology, and leadership to focus on a flourishing life.

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