We're on the home stretch of the 30-Day Challenge. I'd like to use an excerpt from the book, The Business of Happiness, by former AOL executive and owner of the Washington Capitals, Ted Leonsis to illustrate today's topic: happiness brings success, not the other way around.
Alex Ovechkin, who plays for the Washington Capitals, constantly communicates gratitude in his everyday life. Alex is the ultimate team player. He makes the players around him better. He infuses whatever room he walks into with happiness, because he is such a happy person. He was the NHL’s Most Valuable Player two years in a row. He has a long-term contract with the Caps that will earn him more than $100 million dollars. He has a lot to be grateful for.
What he communicates in his every interaction is not the arrogance of someone who is young, rich, and incredibly talented; he continually broadcasts how much joy he has in simply being alive. And what he communicates unmistakably every time he steps on the ice is how much gratitude he has just to be able to put on skates and play. Sure, he’s driven and tough and a competitor nonpareil. Alex is the player who arrives earlier and practices harder than anyone else. That he also has more talent is not quite irrelevant to him – he knows he’s really good – but when he’s on the ice, he’s going to do everything to the max because he really loves playing hockey. He’s the greatest hockey player in the world, but it’s still a game to him, and I know from my interactions with Alex that he’s grateful he gets to play the game he loves and is really good at.
Some opponents think that Alex is too flashy and that maybe he shows off too much when he scores. He gets under the skin of at least one of the game’s other superstars. But Alex has connected with the entire hockey community not simply because he’s so good, or an engaging young man. He’s connected with his teammates, the Caps’ fan base, even with many of his competitors on other teams, because of the infectious joy he shows on the ice. In 2008, when Alex accepted his first Hart Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the NHL, he began his remarks by saying, “What a life!” He is grateful for the chance he has to live it.
Not all hockey players get that same joy out of stepping on the ice. And not all athletes say “please” and “thank you.” The gratitude Alex has for being a hockey player makes him better, not the other way around. He is successful because he’s happy, not happy because he’s successful. Like many happy people, he is able to step outside the moment and be grateful for things as they are.
Have you ever known someone who loves his job so much he says, “All this, and I get paid too”?
That’s Alex Ovechkin. Happy guy.
Making health and fitness funWe all have the opportunity to experience that kind of fulfillment and happiness. The important thing to take from this example about Alex Ovechkin is that happiness comes first, whether you want to be the best hockey player in the world or you want to achieve the body of your dreams. No matter what goal inspires you, success doesn't make you happy, you've got to choose to be happy first, and then success will follow.
How many of our Live Well 360 30-Day Challenge topics can you spot in this excerpt?