What is the opposite of happiness? Come on, hands up. Who has the word sadness in mind right now? If you do you're not alone...
I have recently been re-reading ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferriss. It’s an eye-opening and inspiring book. I’d suggest any budding entrepreneur add it to their reading list. At one point Tim asks the seemingly simple question: What is the opposite of happiness?
If you are in the majority who answers sadness, then Tim would argue that you are wrong. Happiness and sadness are simply two sides of the same coin, two aspects of the same emotion. In the same way, he suggests, love and hate are not opposites. Both are an expression of a very strong emotional reaction to something or someone.
The opposite of love or hate, he argues, is complete indifference. When using a zero-to-ten scale to measure how strong your emotions are about a particular item or person, complete indifference would rate at zero, with both love and hate rating at ten.
Using a similar scale you could place both happiness and sadness at the top end of the spectrum. So what is the opposite of happiness?
The opposite of happiness is boredom.
When Tim Ferriss first presented this idea to me, a light went on in my head. One of the bigger questions many of us grapple with is how to live a happy and fulfilled life. The answer suddenly seemed obvious. Simply figure out what it is that bores you, and then eliminate that stuff from your life.
If you figure out what it is that excites you and pursue this consistently with both enthusiasm and passion, you are unlikely to be plagued by feelings of boredom.
When I listed my entire life on eBay in 2008, I had no idea that I would receive a massive amount of international media interest. I was asked many times in interviews, “what will you do once you have sold your life?” I didn’t really have a well defined answer, just a vague notion of travel and adventure.
The real question I was asking myself wasn’t, “what will I do once I sell my life?” It was, “what will excite me and make me happy?” My answers eventually resulted in a list of 100 lifetime goals and two years of globe-trotting travel in an attempt to achieve them all.
Since then I have made it a habit to regularly ask myself what it is that excites me. The answer changes over time and can even be different from day to day.
5 ways to remain excited about your business
There is a feeling of excitement and expectation when starting a new business. But it is hard to keep yourself motivated once the initial enthusiasm has worn off. Here are five ideas to help keep you inspired and out of the boredom zone.
1. Start each day with a series of positive questions. What would excite me today? What do I want to spend my time doing? What am I looking forward to? Motivation comes from within, and when you are excited about the day ahead you can achieve great things.
2. Eliminate the things that you don’t enjoy doing. That may be easier said than done, but I bet there are some things you could delegate. This may mean investing in a training program for a member of your staff. But the benefits are two-fold – you empower your team, but more importantly you free yourself to think about your business with new enthusiasm.
3. What is it about your business that excites you? Ask yourself why you thought your business was a good idea in the first place. Re-assess your service or product – apply a new creative idea to rekindle your enthusiasm. Connect and network with people who may give you a new perspective to consider.
4. Take a look at your environment. Your surroundings can stimulate or dampen your motivation. Try working in an alternative space. Find a new place to work for a day or longer. Change the décor of the room in which you work.
5. Take a short break. When you feel the onset of boredom, take a break. Go for a walk, visit the gym, meditate, read a book or magazine. Do anything that you enjoy that provides a moment of escape. If your business allows, set yourself a challenge outside of work that excites and stimulates you. The satisfying feeling of success can then be used to reignite your motivation at work.
What are you going to do today that excites you?