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Kenneth is the founder and head coach of One with the Water, a nonprofit swim school that offers need-based scholarships to children with special needs, adults, low-income families, and service-disabled Veterans. He is a certified US Paralympic Disabilities Swim Coach and a strength and conditioning coach.
I define a happy professional as someone that is content and aligned with their values. Their actions and job allow them to remain aligned with their values and integrity as they make decisions throughout the day, at home and at work. Fortunately, there are some simple habits you can cultivate to produce this level of satisfaction in our lives.
Let’s start with the obvious, external factors that can impact our mood/mindset each day. First, there do seem to be some mood-related positive benefits to being an early riser … with the most prevalent being related to insomnia, obesity, and depression. In fact, one UK study published in 2016 did find that people up before 7 am are happier, thinner, sleep better, and are less likely to be depressed. (https://www.nature.com/
Second, meditate, read, practice some intentional quiet to prepare yourself. Harvard researchers have found that even standing in high power poses (like Wonder Woman or the mountain yoga pose) for 2 minutes decreases cortisol (stress hormone) levels by as much as 25 percent.
Third, and perhaps the most obvious and least appreciated, is eating a healthy breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast helps burn calories more efficiently, but more importantly, provides a foundational energy boost to fuel your day and increase your focus.
And fourth, a healthy lifestyle helps increase happiness. Exercise matters … Researchers from St. George University in London found in one 2015 study that just 25 minutes of energetic walking can add up to 7 years of life and slow the aging process in our bodies. (Although obviously we prefer swimming). And, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, going for a walk can increase improvement on creative thinking tests. More exercise equals a longer, more creatively fulfilling life.
So what does this look like for me? Before 10am, i do the following:
Meditate, exercise, plan the day, and respond to email messages and letters. In a state of full awareness and without distraction, it's easiest to do this before 10 am.
Try to avoid having meetings before 10 am, nor after 2:00 pm, and try to limit them to 30 - 45 minutes. If you don't have an agenda then you can't have a meeting. Practice being intentional with your time and resources. When you are intentional, you make the choices that do align with your value system and goals for your personal and professional life.
The bottom line is, happiness is a state of mind - when you approach your life with a growth mindset, believing that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies and help from others, your potential is limitless. Everyone can change and grow through application and experience. (Definition of Growth mindset summarized from Dr. Carol Dweck).