What Makes You Happy on Your Birthday?

Issue 45– April 13, 2018

You guessed it: it’s happy birthday to me today, Friday the 13th. A day to think about what makes for happiness.For me, it’s a day to be grateful for the many gifts I’ve received all year —the love of family, an amazing husband, an opportunity to do work I’m passionate about, good health, and friendship to name a few.The Power of Gratitude — and Handwritten Thank You NotesThis week, I hope you had a chance to tune into my Virtual Happy Hour.I had a vibrant conversation with three women — all of whom are changing the odds to speed gender parity, one in business, one in politics, and one in media. They are:• Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker, activist & Founder of the global 50/50 day movement;• Glynda Carr, co-founder of Higher Heights, a nonprofit dedicated to building a national infrastructure to harness Black women’s political power and leadership potential;• and Kathy Coover, cofounder and executive Vice President of Isagenix, a billion dollar business, and direct sales expert.

These women have accomplished amazing things in their careers. Yet, when asked to give one leadership tip to our listeners, they all mentioned the power of gratitude in their own lives.

Kathy starts her day with an affirmation of her gratitude for something specific. Glynda talked about how gratitude for the Black women who have come before her motivates her work. And Tiffany brought the house down by exhorting us to practice the almost extinct art of handwritten thank you notes. Such a simple yet powerful way to be happier and more successful by expressing our gratitude.Sometimes it’s the simplest of pleasures that bring forth the most happiness hormones and that connect with other people. My instagram post that triggered the most smiles this week was this dress. I snapped the photo because the flowered fabric reminded me of a dress I sewed for myself when I was in high school, and that had made me smile when I saw it.Happiness is Making Equal Pay Day RedundantTuesday, April 10 was Equal Pay Day. But it’s really unequal pay day, a reminder that women on average have to work 20% more days before their paycheck adds up to that of their male counterparts — and for women of color that time period stretches across the year — Latinas don’t hit that milestone till November 1. So Step Up Your Equal Pay Day game by using tips from this powerful resource guide, and help make Equal Pay Day redundant. Let it be your personal guide to what you can do now.

The Question That Made Me ThinkMy friend Linda Hirshman, author of Sisters in Law and an authority on social movements, asked me how I’m always upbeat. I replied that I have my moments!But doing worthy movement building work and seeing it make a difference for people keeps me optimistic. I have the blessing every day of seeing that change for the better is possible. Occasionally I get feedback like the message a young woman named Erin whom I’ve never met but she sent me a message via LinkedIn. She thanked me for my work on behalf of women and told me how it has helped her get through difficulties such as a recent job loss.I learned from my mother the price of negativity. It made her depressed and bitter. I had to make a conscious decision not to live in the shadow of a pessimist worldview. It isn’t easy to “always look at the bright side of life” to quote Monty Python. And sometimes I can fall into deep despair. So I was grateful this week when Erin quoted me back to myself citing this passage from my book, No Excuses:

“When women come together and collectively decide to stop being well-behaved — to shuck the shame and have the courage to stand up for ourselves, with our sisters — then that’s a movement. Banding together to speak our truth and effect change allows us to get through the barriers of shame and fear, as well as barriers of law and custom… If you want to change the system, you need to function like a movement.”

SJ Murray, an award-winning producer, professor, and storyteller (and a member of Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change the World — Media and Entertainment, shared this, my favorite quote of the week or maybe ever. It speaks to making change and movement building in one succinct phrase that makes me very happy.

So happy birthday to me, happy today and every day to you, and thank you for reading this.Now tell me, what gives you a happy birthday?<a href="https://medium.com/media/fafb1095d670335272978da703fd80c9/href">https://medium.com/media/fafb1095d670335272978da703fd80c9/href</a>