As an executive coach, I’ve worked with many leaders, leadership teams, companies and industries, in many parts of the world.  They have achieved a certain level of success, but in my almost 30 years I have noticed one trait that really stands out above the rest. Happiness is the true measure of success. Trying to help others be happy is the highest expression of success, but it’s incredibly difficult if you’re not happy yourself.

With that in mind, here are five things you can do that can immediately increase the amount of happiness in your life:

1. Start each day with an expectation.

Life usually lives up or down to our expectations. What do you choose? When you wake up tomorrow, start your first thought with: “something good is going to happen today.”  If you don’t believe it, there is good chance it won’t happen.  Allow yourself to be receptive to a good or positive experience.  When disappointed or when something not good does happen (because that’s life, it’s not perfect and things do go wrong), accept it and move on.

2. Take time to think, plan and prioritize.

The #1 excuse is accepting that you are too busy and that you will eventually get to it. That you don’t have time to do the things you really want or need to do – to improve yourself, have that vacation, see that friend, or do that project you’ve wanted to do.  You will not eventually get to it. Be honest with yourself. The only thing that can impact this is taking ownership of your life, routine and schedule, and changing it!  Create time for yourself. Block it out on your calendar!  Pick one thing. If you get it done today, it will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Quality of life and work-life balance is having time (quality time) with your family & friends, your work, your community and yourself.

3. Give to everyone you meet.

Give a smile, a word of thanks or encouragement, a gesture of politeness, a friendly nod. Ask someone how they are doing, if there is anything you can do to help. Don’t be distracted by your tablet, PDA, phone, computer, etc.  Be Present – focus on the person you are interacting with as if they were the most important interaction and experience you will have that day. Learn from others, regardless of who they are – young, new or old. Regardless of success you might have achieved, be humble, grateful, thankful. Nothing like the sound of laughter.

4. Let go.

The big enemies of happiness: worry, paranoia, hate, jealousy, judgment, guilt and arrogance. Once you’ve taken action, or demonstrated a thought or emotion, it’s done. Focus on what you can do moving forward. Learn from the past. Adjust. Focus on what you can control. We will make mistakes, fail. It’s ok. That’s how we grow and learn. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Rid yourself of what’s holding you down. Let go. Free yourself of burden. It’s hard to demonstrate love, acceptance and respect for others if you don’t for yourself.

5. End each day with gratitude.

Before you go to bed write down one wonderful thing that happened that day. It might be making a child laugh or winning that big deal. Whatever it is, be grateful for that moment and what it meant to you.  What did it mean to others? How will it impact you tomorrow?

Stay tuned to article in near future:  Happiness:  A Business Model for Success.

by Chuck Mollor, Executive Coach & Managing Partners, MCG Partners.