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Building Happiness

What is your goal in life?

After you answer, ask yourself “Why?”. After you answer this, keep asking why until you get to what you know is your final answer. For most people, it will go like this… “My biggest goal is to start my own company… or meet my future spouse… or start an exercise program…” When they answer the why question, it will sound like this… “So I can have more freedom… or to start a family… or to be healthier”.

But if you keep asking why, it will almost always end with this… “…to be happy”.

If happiness is actually everyone’s eventual goal, then what makes people happy? Research in positive psychology has shown there are three levels of happiness, much like a pyramid. At the bottom is Pleasure Happiness. This can be created by buying new clothes, having a great meal, going out on the town, etc. It is the easiest to create, but by far the most fleeting. The second level is Passion Happiness. This is created by doing something you are really passionate about. It would be exemplified by professional athletes having a great game or artists creating a great work of art. The third level is Higher Purpose Happiness. This is achieved by being a part of something bigger than yourself that has meaning to you. Great examples would be faith, family, volunteering, and military service. This is by the far the longest lasting level of happiness and the most fulfilling.

Most people chase the first level their whole lives. They think if they can somehow keep enough stimuli coming on a regular basis, it will keep them in a happy state. Most of the time, however, this proves unsustainable. Even if they can sustain it (like movie or rock stars), they often find it eventually becomes hollow and no longer provides happiness.

The logical approach is to flip the pyramid. Find a higher calling (or multiple higher callings) first. Believe in something bigger than yourself to achieve that underlying sense of contentment. For our company culture, we don’t want to just build “stuff” to make money. We want to build beautiful homes and buildings that will make our grandkids proud. We want to create a work environment where we enjoy working with each other. We want to create the flexibility for our employees and trade partners to have plenty of time to be with their families.

The next step is to be passionate. This is easy as we love to build! Right out of college, I worked for Exxon as an Engineer at the Baytown, Texas Refinery. It’s a great company with great people, but after about 4 years, I had an epiphany. On my death bed, did I want to say I made a lot of gasoline and chemical products?! “No!” was my answer. I thought hard about it and realized I loved to build things. I loved to see the work my grandfather had built in Chicago and I loved to build homes and additions with my dad and brother growing up. I didn’t realize it at the time (as the work can be brutal), but I was slowly developing a lifelong passion to build. Even now I am a building educational junkie, going to builder shows and educational seminars throughout the year. There is nothing better than building a high performance custom home or building and knowing we are building it the best that it can be built.

Paying the bills and growing the business are the bonus effects that come with embracing the first two levels.

The end result is our clients, employees, trade partners, and anyone else who comes in contact with the company are happier. Our main marketing plan is literally to do whatever we can to keep all of these people happy. This can be much easier said than done, but it is our overall company goal. We use happiness as an overall guiding principle.

I need to give credit for much of this thinking to Tony Hsieh (pronounced like “Shay”), founder of Zappos. He has written a great book called “Delivering Happiness” that I highly recommend. At the end of the book, he states his goal is to contribute to a happiness movement to help make the world a better place. He shares much of the information about the success at Zappos to encourage other companies and people to join in. We at the Homoly Family of Companies are on board and plan to contribute by Building Happiness.

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