Great leaders and happy people share this one daily mission.

Experts have long proposed that smiling can make you feel happier and decrease stress. I naturally smile all the time (except for that year I was trying to raise $25m for a fund and failed). Smiling feels good to me and even when I am alone, I remind myself to stop and smile at how lucky I am. I believe that your mood sets up your day as well as your company.

But, another expert shares that not all emotions are displayed and interpreted the same way. So, universal smiling may not be the key. I can’t disagree, however, I am keeping my smile for both my own personal satisfaction as well as the people I run into to. I will simply understand that it may not impact everyone else the same way. Oh well.

So, if smiling is not necessarily the key attribute of happy people is there something deeper?

A few days ago I came across a phrase that really resonated with me – GO FIRST.

Gabby Reece is a famous woman volleyball player, a trainer on the show Biggest Loser and is the famous wife of a famous surfer; Laird Hamilton and I first saw the phrase attributed to her.

In this mobile phone – heads down world we live in there are fewer opportunities to engage with the people around us.

In this mechanized world where workers have increasing pressure to be productive, there are few opportunities to engage with the people around us.

Serendipitous opportunities to connect with someone face-to-face are around us every day and happy people seek and embrace those opportunities with one simple act – they go first.

We all know people like this. Do you work in an office? Think of that person who stops by your cube or table just to say Hi. If you are lucky enough to walk to work or back, think about that person who always stops you for a minute of chitchat. There is even the digital equivalent of that random text or email from someone not in your immediate circle. All of these people are go-first people and my unscientific analysis is that they all seem to be happy people.

Even if you are more introverted, I encourage you to find these moments to go first. Not only will your target feel good about the interaction, you may just be a little happier yourself.


This article first appeared in INC.COM – find more of my articles there.