Marc Miller shared his story about faith and happiness at the Good Leadership Breakfast last Friday.

The words, “we felt compelled to do something in our son’s honor,” caused the lump in my throat last Friday. The speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast, Marc Miller, was sharing how in his state of grieving over the sudden loss of his son, he felt called to start a non-profit to honor the name of his child, Gunnar.

Building happiness

Marc and his wife in their grief rallied around the message in hundreds of cards, letters and emails from admiring people who said “Gunnar made me happy.”  So today, The Gunnar Project has become a significant expression of Marc’s faith — with a compelling mission for teenagers, and people of all ages: To inspire true happiness.

“To be happy at any one moment is not the goal. A new pair of jeans can make you happy,” Marc explained. “But pursuing true happiness is a journey that is much deeper and much richer. It comes from helping others and being grateful.”

Tips for gratitude

Gunnar Miller recovered from alcohol addiction, only to pass tragically at the age of 19 from a skateboarding accident.

Marc found many of life’s simple choices to be challenging while asking the question: Why? Why Gunnar, and why me? “I found myself walking every day with doubt by my side. Sometimes fairness is hard to believe in,” he shared with unvarnished honesty.

His solution was to create a simple and solid faith foundation in small, daily exercises of gratitude. “I try to do three things every morning to help me understand how grateful I am to be alive, and to have known Gunnar,” he taught us.

First, he made a lifetime commitment to a daily habit of gratitude. “When I brush my teeth in the morning, I spend that 90 seconds thinking of all the reasons I have to be grateful today,” he coached.

Second, he makes a commitment to adding kindness throughout his day, by sharing that kindness on his morning drive into work. “No more cutting people off, instead I find myself smiling and waving at people,” he chuckled.

Marc Miller is spreading happiness through students in honor of Gunnar.

Third, he makes the commitment to being compassionate in how he approaches his life and his leadership. “Sometimes that means simply noticing when people are having a rough day, and simply giving a few minutes to just listen. I find my time spent consoling people is very rewarding. And it fills me with happiness,” Marc revealed.

Good leaders create habits to ensure they are grateful in every chapter of life. And they pursue happiness as a strategy to change their world.

Please share with me: What habits help you feel grateful today?