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“There’s no one way to be happy, and there’s no wrong way to be happy.” That’s not a random idea from an armchair philosopher; it happens to be the statement of a NYU professor who teaches about happiness.

In the September series, Set the Tone, we’ve talked about creating the life you want through different avenues: your beliefs, emotions, speech and actions. Life falls into place when all four elements work together.

Dan Lerner has spent time researching what makes people happy, but he’s also augmented it with personal observations. Remarkably, some of the happiest musicians he’s known weren’t the wealthiest or most successful names on his client roster.

He recalls, “I spent about ten years as a music agent. Along the way, I became very interested in how my clients handled success. Some of them were tremendously successful but quite unhappy. Others seemed quite content with their success. Happiness doesn’t necessarily mean you have a smile on your face. It’s more of a mixing board with several different dials: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement. Everyone’s mixing board is set differently. There’s no one way to be happy, and there’s no wrong way to be happy. I may draw my happiness from relationships, while somebody else may need to be constantly engaged in the pursuit of a goal.”

Dan Lerner’s colleague, Alan Schechter, has created his own happiness formula. After some good natured trial and error, “good things” anchor his day. Schechter notes, “Good days are filled with three “good things”: I need to meditate for 15 to 20 minutes, I need to spend 2 hours with my kids, and I need to cross something off my list.”

The people we’ve met in this series created a happiness paradigm by challenging conventional wisdom. For them, “happy” came into focus by letting go of what wasn’t working, rather than pursuing a frantic “bigger is better” agenda.

  • Louise Hay pushed an audience member to examine her subconscious core beliefs. The hours she spent in gossip and chit-chat were damaging, not harmless fun. Changing her priorities meant she could permanently transform her professional life.
  • Entertainment executive Bonnie Hammer overcame the anxieties and competitiveness that ruled her erratic twenties. Learning how to manage her emotions gave her the freedom to follow her intuition and take more risks.
  • Lisa Bloom leveraged the power of speech to influence 5-year old Maya. Her words encouraged Maya to understand that her value was about far more than looking cute.
  • After Dan and Christy stopped saying yes to random invitations, their family stress plunged. Now their intentional actions align with their core values.

How are you setting your mixing board? Do you allow each channel to take priority at different times, or are you out of balance? Take a few minutes to reset the levels. There’s still plenty of time this year to create and customize your personal version of happy. Discover what brings your beliefs, emotions, speech and actions together – fill your week with good things!