The Research Backed Secret to Happiness



It is so easy when you are an ambitious woman not to stop and take the time and space to celebrate. It's always, onto the next goal, climb to the next mountain peak. 

And yet, stopping to gaze at the view and acknowledge your win, pat your back for the miles you have come thus far, however minor they may seem, are critical to bolstering your confidence levels, your well-being, and your overall happiness. 

This is also true about stopping to celebrate life and enjoying the moment without focusing on the past or future. The HERE and the NOW. 

What's even better? 

Celebrating those wins with people who you care about and who care about you. 

We are super intentional in The Women's Leadership Challenge and in the alumni community about taking the time and space to celebrate with one another- individual accomplishments, process goals, holidays, and life milestones. 

This week, one participant celebrated that she exercised her voice on a project when she wouldn't have in the past. I asked her how she did it. She said, with all of the readings, this course, and the support of my cohort, I leaned into trusting my experience and expertise, despite being younger and a woman in a male dominated space. 

Another participant walked in with her face glowing. Another participant said to me, Samantha, look at her hand - and there was a glittering diamond ring. I'm engaged!!!

she announced joyously. One minute later, another WLC member walked in and I said to her, look, Sophie is engaged! She started to laugh then presented her hand, clad in its own pear shaped glimmering diamond and said, I'm engaged too!! 

That same night, we opened Secret Santa/Hanukkah Harry gifts after class, and toasted engagements and birthdays and the holidays with champagne that yet another participant had brought for class. 

The joy on every woman's face opening her sassy feminist gifts brought everyone so much joy.

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We also held a holiday potluck for the DC community of the Women's Leadership Challenge at the homes of one of our students. It was wonderful connecting women across cohorts past and present, sharing pasta and cookies and wine together. 

It made me think about the meaning of community. Sometimes I think to myself, how many people in this world have gone without a hug today? What about in the past week? The past month? That was aggrandized during COVID. 

Research from author and popular psychologist Shawn Achor tells us that having strong relationships and social support is the single best predictor of wellbeing. 

Meaningful social connections help individuals bounce back from stressful situations, foster resilience, and bring meaning and purpose to life. 

Just like anything important in life, building supportive relationships takes intention, and time, and work, and love.

When I designed the Women's Leadership Challenge, I intentionally designed it to be in super small cohorts and to take place over an extended period of time to enable the formation of strong supportive relationships. I saw how conferences and week long programs created short bursts of enjoyable dopamine but facilitated only superficial connections.

What I've seen through the Women's Leadership Challenge are women who help each other to become stronger, to speak truth to power, and to go after dreams that they may never even have given voice to. undefined

And often, they achieve them.

There is accountability and true belief in one another that results in unbelievable wins. undefined

Like Lesley, who is now publishing her fifth children's book in the Fantastic Florence series for children who have experienced trauma. Or Laura, who wanted to become an adjunct National Security Professor when she started the challenge. undefined

She just finished teaching her first semester at Duke.

It gives me chills.
As you think about your next year, regardless of where you find your support system, I want to encourage you to include building and maintaining strong relationships with people who bring positive energy into your life amongst your New Year's Resolutions. undefined

And if the sound of a supportive cohort of powerful women around you makes your heart sing, we are waiting for you.

Just don't hesitate to book your discovery call, because the spring cohorts are almost full.

For more: We loved this podcast from the Economist with Tal Ben Shahar, author of Happier, No Matter What, diving more into the SPIRE model of happiness. undefined