Author’s Note: I’ve made a list of 100+ events, places and experiences that happily unite people. I’m taking a tour to see and experience as many of them as possible, and also meet up with Society members and friends. Of course, I’ll be sharing these #HappinessUnites moments with you. Or find out more of the why’s of the #HappinessUnites Tour in my article: 3 Reasons I’m Hittin’ the Road. Or find where my #HappinessUnites Tour has taken me so far – and what I’ve had time to write about. If you want to meet up with me, check out my #HappinessUnites Tour schedule.
#HappinessUnites Tour – Stop 19: Learning Something New
Years ago I had a conversation with someone who said they didn’t want to try something because they didn’t think they’d be good at it. Two thoughts immediately crossed my mind: First, if you haven’t tried it how do you know if you’re good at it or not? Second, how many of us are really good at something the first time we do it?
Learning something new isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be frustrating: you might say the opposite of happy. However, a 2009 study from the Journal of Happiness showed that even when we experience the discomfort of change and challenges, this act of learning something new and exciting creates happiness. That’s because happiness is bigger than those moments of elation. It includes feelings like satisfaction, confidence, or motivated. Also, when we learn something new with others, we create happy bonds that may even lead to friendships.
Over the years, I’ve tried to learn new things that I was just bad at – like when I took tennis lessons, belly dancing classes and painting with wine. You can probably guess which of those three activities that I was best at — well at least good at half of the activity. I’m not implying you’ll be good at everything you try, but sometimes the fun is in the trying. If you can resist the need to be perfect, then trying something new can be more like play because it doesn’t matter if you’re any good at it. You’re participating in an experience to see if you want or can become good at it.
Since I’m getting Happier @ Work ready to launch, I’m in the process of learning lots of new things. However, I decided that I needed some help with my presentations. In one of the entrepreneurial groups I participate in, Tamsen Webster, was a guest speaker who talked about many things, including public speaking. She was so good on our call that I had to visit her website, where I learned she offered a weekend training called the Red Thread Weekend. It was about how to find the message or theme that consistently runs through your presentations.
It sounded like the training would help me merge the messages between the Secret Society of Happy People and Happier @ Work, so I knew I had to attend the next available workshop. At first, the idea of sharing my still-evolving ideas was rather daunting. However, I overcame my fear of incompetence and invested in my future company by registering for the Red Thread Weekend that would be held in Boston.
Being a typical unprepared student, I hadn’t done my prep work when I arrived in Boston. Since class didn’t start until Saturday morning, I figured I could work on it after the group met for an early happy hour that evening.
I checked into the beautiful historic Omni Parker House which was located within walking distance of my training. When I arrived a beautiful lobby centerpiece greeted me. I kept pondering where I could store all of the vases if I tried to recreate something similar on one of my tables.
Since I arrived a bit early, I decided to learn some new things about historic Boston. The first thing I noticed when I walked across the street was a stunning large mosaic that was originally part of the Boston Latin School, the nation’s oldest public school. The famous school has since relocated, so the mosaic is now in front of the Old City Hall.
Then I made my way to King’s Chapel, a church that was established in 1686. The fact that this church had been standing for over 330 years boggled my mind. Walking around in the sanctuary I wondered, “How many people had worshiped here throughout the years?” Even the pews were different than anything I’d ever seen — they were like boxed seats so you could sit with your family during the service.
Next door was King’s Chapel Burial Ground, which was founded in 1630, making it the oldest Boston cemetery. I noticed many of the headstones were so old you could hardly read anything on them. Cemeteries are always a surreal place to visit for me because they are full of family histories, legacies, and unknown stories. When I’m walking through one sometimes, it’s as if I can feel the old stories vibrating throughout the hallowed grounds. This one was no different. After paying my respects, I was eager to visit Paul Revere’s House.
Paul Revere’s home was originally built in 1680, and is the oldest building in downtown Boston. The Revere family owned the home from 1770 to 1800, but may not have lived in it most of that time. The main thing I learned on that tour was that when Paul was alerting his fellow countrymen about the British coming, he would not have been yelling, “The British are coming,” from his horse like we’re taught in school. There would have been too many people who supported the British during that time, so the message had to be spread a little more quietly.
After the tour I walked around the very old part of Boston soaking in the historic buildings that were now mostly restaurants and shops. Then I headed to happy hour to meet Tamsen and find out more about the next day’s training.
Although I’d met Tamsen and her husband, who would be helping with the training, the night before, that didn’t get rid of the butterflies in my stomach as I walked to class. These butterflies were fluttering in part because I knew that each participant would be put on the spot so they could share what they speak and present about. Although I knew my big topic was happiness, I had yet to nail down my elevator pitch.
Shortly after the group made their individual introductions, we were asked to make our elevator pitch — and it would be taped. Although I didn’t want to do this, I knew it was necessary to find out how I could make my message crisp. After I did my tape, it was painfully obvious that I needed even more help than what I initially thought. The next two days were going to be intense.
Tamsen quickly made everyone feel comfortable, and was able to skillfully help everyone fine-tune their messages. At the end of the first day, my head was spinning so much that I wondered if I’d be able to think the next day. The dazed looks on the others’ faces told me that they felt the same way, too. After class, we went out to a nice dinner together and yes, I ate the most delicious lobster. When in Boston, do as the Bostonians do 🙂
The next day, we all worked hard to figure out and fine-tune our red thread message. Ultimately, after lots of message drafts, everyone in the class had found their message and learned lots of tips to help us better prepare our presentations.
During those two days, there were times I felt like I had no idea what I was going to be talking about. There were moments that the process was uncomfortable, and my ego got bruised.
However, at the end of the training I left feeling more confident about the presentations I aspire to deliver. I also made new friends who I’d shared this experience with. I left Boston so happy that I’d decided to learn something new. Oh, and the lobster didn’t hurt either.