International lecturer, author of the “Happiness Advantage”, and former Harvard instructor Shawn Achor recently shared the following research at the Commonwealth Bank’s two-day “Wired for Wonder” conference in Sydney, Australia. The figures are staggering, the research is interesting, and the impact amazing.
“Ninety percent of our long-term level of happiness is . . . not based on the external world, but how your brain processes the external world,” Achor said. “If we could change that lens some incredible things could happen.”
“If you take four-year-old children, prime them to become more positive and have them put blocks of shapes together, it turns out the children in the positive category will put blocks together significantly faster than children in a negative/neutral category.”
IQ doesn’t matter as much as we think it does.
“If I know everyone’s IQ here in the room and I’m trying to predict your job successes, cross-industry, over the next five-year period, it turns out that IQ and technical skills are only responsible [for] and only predict 25 % of your job successes,” Achor told the conference.
The pattern has been observed again and again: “Happiness and optimism can be much better predictors of productivity than IQ and technical skills,” Achor said. According to research undertaken in the late 1990s, doctors who had been primed to be more positive were 19% faster and more accurate with coming up with a correct diagnosis and were more “intellectually flexible” when presented with a misdiagnosis.
Success and Happiness
“… if you raise your levels of happiness, it turns out every single business and educational outcome improves. Our success rates rise dramatically. Raising success does not raise levels of happiness but raising levels of happiness dramatically increases your success rates.”
Achor’s second book, “Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success” is due out in September, I’ll be sharing more info from it with you as soon as it’s available.
Have a great weekend, and make it even better by asking yourself each morning, what one thing can I do today to bring more joy into my life. . . and then do it!
I’m finishing-up my third Peace Corps assignment, and will be heading back to the States on Valentine’s Day – a sweet treat for sure. I served with the Peace Corps from 2006-2009 in the Republic of Macedonia, 3.5 months in the Republic of Georgia, 2011-2012, and I’m now finishing a 3.5 month assignment in Macedonia.
A big part of the joy I have experienced in my work here and in Georgia has to do with being open to exploring and understanding different cultures. So, earlier this week, when I opened my email and read an e-newsletter about “Cultural Intelligence”, I started thinking about what I’ve learned by living and traveling abroad and how those lessons have shaped my life.
My favorite line in the article is . . . “The last part of cultural intelligence relates to how you behave, and, in particular, how well you adapt when things don’t go according to plan.”
While living abroad I quickly learned that some of my richest and most rewarding moments were dependent on how well I adapted when things turned out differently than I expected, which led to an even more valuable lesson – to be truly happy abroad – it’s best to check your expectations with your luggage!
And, guess what? The amazing part of that lesson is it works just as well at home as it does abroad! Letting go of your expectations, is one of the keys to being truly happy – anywhere, anytime. When we let go of what we expect to happen and how we expect others to act and react, the happier and more fulfilling our lives become.
Expectations take-up a great deal of room in our hearts and in our heads and require loads of effort to maintain, which leaves very little space and energy for understanding, communication, growth, and happiness.
Think about it.
Why not give yourself a special gift this Valentine’s Day and lessen your expectations for yourself and others (past, present and future) and increase the likelihood that happiness will find a special place in your heart and grow to become the sweetest part of your life?
“Sreken pat” or happy journey, as they say to travelers in Macedonia, and may your happiest journey be your life.
Happy Thanksgiving! I thought today was a great day to share with you this wonderful post by Amit Amin from his blog “Happier Human”. As you know, I usually write the Wishful Thinking Works posts, but since this is a holiday extra and I’m so thankful that Amit has gathered such a fantastic collection of facts and figures about “How Gratitude Can Change Your Life”, I thought I would share it with you.
I hope you enjoy it whether you read it today, tomorrow, over the weekend or in the weeks ahead. I know gratitude works, because even though I am thousands of miles from my family my heart is full with the kindness of my friends here and the knowledge that Peace Corps has brought us together again!
by Amit Amin
Do you want more from your life?
More happiness? Better health? Deeper relationships? Increased productivity?
What if I told you that just one thing can help you in all of those areas?
An Attitude of Gratitude
What the heck? Gratitude? Is this a Christian blog?
No. I’m not even religious. When I first started looking into gratitude, I wasn’t expecting much.
I was wrong:
Seriously? All that? Yes. This list of benefits was compiled by aggregating the results of more than 40 research studies on gratitude.
1. Gratitude makes us happier.
A five-minute a day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent.a1,a2,a3 That’s 2.5x the impact of winning more than $1,000,000 in the lottery!a4
How does a free five minute activity do what $1,000,000+ can’t? Gratitude improves our health, relationships, emotions, personality, and career.
Sure, $1,000,000 is pretty awesome, but because of hedonic adaption we quickly get used to the money and stop having as much fun and happiness as we did at first.
Gratitude makes us feel more gratitude.
This is why a five-minute a week gratitude journal can make us so much happier. The actual gratitude produced during those five minutes is small, but the emotions of gratitude felt during those five-minutes are enough to trigger a grateful mood.
While in a grateful mood, we will feel gratitude more frequently, when we do feel gratitude it will be more intense and held for longer, and we will feel gratitude for more things at the same time.
In five words – gratitude triggers positive feedback loops.
After repeated exposure to the same emotion-producing stimulus, we tend to experience less of the emotion. Put more simply, we get use to the good things that happen to us. This also means that we get use to the bad things that happen to us. Those who have been disabled have a remarkable ability to rebound – initially they may feel terrible, but after months or years they are on average just as happy as everyone else.
Hedonic adaption gives unparalleled resiliency, and keeps us motivated to achieve ever greater things. It also kills our marriages – we get use to our amazing spouse (or kids, or job, or house, or car, or game). We stop seeing as much positive and start complaining. It is a psychological imperative to fight hedonic adaption if we want to maximize happiness. Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal.
In all relevant studies, changes occurred slowly. It took several months of continuous practice for the largest benefits to appear. This is for two reasons:
2. Gratitude makes people like us.
Gratitude generates social capital – in two studies with 243 total participants, those who were 10% more grateful than average had 17.5% more social capital.b1
Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriage.b2
Bonus question: Is that first picture actually of me? Hm… I wonder…
3. Gratitude makes us healthier.
Check it out:
There is even reason to believe gratitude can extend your lifespan by a few months or even years.f2,f3,f4
4. Gratitude boosts our career.
Gratitude makes you a more effective manager,c1,c2 helps you network, increases your decision making capabilities, increases your productivity, and helps you get mentors and proteges.b1 As a result, gratitude helps you achieve your career goals, as well as making your workplace a more friendly and enjoyable place to be.a2, b2
Do you think this is effective?
I’m not suggesting that criticism and self-focus don’t have a place in the workplace, but I think we’re overdoing it.
65% of Americans didn’t receive recognition in the workplace last year.c3
5. Gratitude strengthens our emotions.
Gratitude reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, lets us experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stress.b2,d1,d2,d3
6. Gratitude develops our personality.
It really does, and in potentially life-changing ways.a2,b2,d2,e1,e2
If you’re a man, don’t worry; gratitude won’t transform you into a woman.
Convinced of the benefits? Read this post: How Grateful Are You? Interactive Quiz + Seven Strategies for Cultivating Gratitude
Not convinced? Want to know the details or explore the science that backs up these claims? Click below to go to the specific category or benefit that interests you, or just continue scrolling.
Click here to jump to the comments section.
7. Gratitude makes us more optimistic.Gratitude is strongly correlated with optimism. Optimism in turn makes us happier, improves our health, and has been shown to increase lifespan by as much as a few years.f1,f2,f3,f4 I’d say a 5 minute a day gratitude journal would be worth it just for this benefit.
8. Gratitude reduces materialism.
Materialism is strongly correlated with reduced well-being and increased rates of mental disorder.g1 There’s nothing wrong with wanting more. The problem with materialism is that it makes people feel less competent, reduces feelings of relatedness and gratitude, reduces their ability to appreciate and enjoy the good in life, generates negative emotions, and makes them more self-centered.g1,g2,g3
The pursuit of wealth and power has been shown in dozens of studies to be a highly inefficient method of increasing well-being and happiness. To be sure, if your income doubles you will be slightly happier. But how much effort do you think is involved in doubling your income? How many sacrifices are required? Motivational speakers will tell you that the money is worth the sacrifices. I disagree.
Applying that same level of energy towards strengthening one’s relationships, cultivating compassion and gratitude, and so on much more reliably creates positive, transformative change.
Said differently, material success is not a very important factor in the happiness of highly grateful people.
Materialism flows from two sources: role models and insecurity.
Those who are more materialistic are more likely to relentlessly pursue wealth. So while gratitude won’t make you lazy, over your lifetime you may end up earning less money. You will instead re-focus on other things. You may, for example, spend time with friends, family, and your hobbies. That’s a good thing.
Regret #2: Working too hard.
Gratitude has caused me to focus less on things that don’t matter, like making money, and more on the things that do, like my family and this blog. I think that’s a good thing.
9. Gratitude increases spiritualism.
Spiritual transcendence is highly correlated with feelings of gratitude. That is – the more spiritual you are, the more likely you are to be grateful.
This is for two reasons:
I believe the opposite to also be true, that gratitude spontaneously gives rise to spiritual attribution, helping one feel closer to God or other religious entities. I am irreligious, and have found gratitude practices to make my spiritual position difficult – those moments when I feel intense gratitude make me want to believe in a benevolent God. My solution has been to re-direct my feelings towards Lady Luck.
Many of the sub-traits associated with spirituality are the same sub-traits associated with gratitude. For example, spiritual individuals are more likely to feel a strong spiritual or emotional connection with others, and to believe in inter-connectedness. Both are prerequisites for feeling gratitude – someone who feels weak connections with others, and who believes in the illusion of self-sufficiency is unlikely to feel gratitude.
10. Gratitude makes us less self-centered.
I’ll be totally honest, I’m a self-centered twat. I’m a lot better now that I’ve brought gratitude into my life, but I still spend way too much time thinking about myself, and too little thinking about others. I expect this to change – because of my compassion and gratitude practices I am starting to have spontaneous urges to help others.
This is because the very nature of gratitude is to focus on others (on their acts of benevolence). In this regard, gratitude practice can be better than self-esteem therapy. Self-esteem therapy focuses the individual back on themselves: I’m smart, I look good, I can succeed, etc….
That can work, but it can also make us narcissistic or even back-fire and lower self-esteem.i1
11. Gratitude increases self-esteem.
Imagine a world where no one helps you. Despite your asking and pleading, no one helps you.
Now imagine a world where many people help you all of the time for no other reason than that they like you. In which world do you think you would have more self-esteem? Gratitude helps to create a world like that.
Gratitude does this in two ways:
12. Gratitude improves your sleep.
Gratitude increases sleep quality, reduces the time required to fall asleep, and increases sleep duration. Said differently, gratitude can help with insomnia.a2,j1
The key is what’s on our minds as we’re trying to fall asleep. If it’s worries about the kids, or anxiety about work, the level of stress in our body will increase, reducing sleep quality, keeping us awake, and cutting our sleep short.
If it’s thinking about a few things we have to be grateful for today, it will induce the relaxation response, knock us out, and keep us that way.
Yes – gratitude is a (safe and free) sleep aid.
In one study of 65 subjects with a chronic pain condition, those who were assigned a daily gratitude journal to be completed at night reported half an hour more sleep than the control group.a2
In another study of 400 healthy people, those participants who had higher scores on a gratitude test also had significantly better sleep. They reported faster time to sleep, improved sleep quality, increased sleep duration, and less difficulty staying awake during the day.j1 This is not because their life was simply better – levels of gratitude are more dependent on personality and life perspective than on life situation.
13. Gratitude keeps you away from the doctor.
Gratitude can’t cure cancer (neither can positive-thinking), but it can strengthen your physiological functioning.
Positive emotion improves health. The details are complicated, but the overall picture is not – if you want to improve your health, improve your mind. This confidence comes from 137 research studies.
Gratitude is a positive emotion. It’s no far stretch that some of the benefits (e.g. better coping & management of terminal conditions like cancer and HIV,k1,k2 faster recovery from certain medical procedures, positive changes in immune system functioning,k3 more positive health behavior,k4,k5 etc…) apply to gratitude as well.
In fact, some recent science shows just that – those who engage in gratitude practices have been shown to feel less pain, go to the doctor less often, have lower blood pressure, and be less likely to develop a mental disorder.a1,a2,k6
The science on how is still unclear. Here are two ideas:
14. Gratitude lets you live longer.
I will be honest with you – by combining the results of a few different studies I’m confident that gratitude can extend lifespan, but no single study as yet has actually proven this claim.
Here is what we know: optimism and positive emotion in general have been used to successfully predict mortality decades later.f2,f3,f4 The optimistic lived a few years longer than the pessimistic. A few years may not sound like much, but I know when I’m about to die I’d like to have a few more years!
We also know that gratitude is strongly correlated with positive emotion. So, gratitude –> positive emotion –> an extra few months or years on earth. With positive psychology research on the rise, I believe we can expect this claim to be rigorously tested within the next five to ten years.
15. Gratitude increase your energy levels.
Gratitude and vitality are strongly correlated – the grateful are much more likely to report physical and mental vigor.
I believe it’s two of those three:
16. Gratitude makes you more likely to exercise.
In one 11-week study of 96 Americans, those who were instructed to keep a weekly gratitude journal exercised 40 minutes more per week than the control group.a2 No other study has yet to replicate these results. It could be because other gratitude studies testing this effect have been much shorter – in the range of one to three weeks, or it could be because this result was a fluke.
Once again, time will tell – but it would not surprise me if being grateful for one’s health would increase one’s tendency to want to protect it by exercising more.
17. Gratitude helps us bounce back.
Those that have more gratitude have a more pro-active coping style, are more likely to have and seek out social support in times of need, are less likely to develop PTSD, and are more likely to grow in times of stress.b1,b2,d1
In others words, they are more resilient.
18. Gratitude makes us feel good.
Surprise, surprise: gratitude actually feels good. Yet only 20% of Americans rate gratitude as a positive and constructive emotion (compared to 50% of Europeans).l1
According to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, gratitude is just happiness that we recognize after-the fact to have been caused by the kindness of others. Gratitude doesn’t just make us happier, it is happiness in and of itself!
That’s no surprise – we idealize the illusion of self-sufficiency. Gratitude, pah! That’s for the weak.
F&ck no it’s not. Gratitude feels good, and if the benefits on this page are any indication – gratitude will make you stronger, healthier, and more successful.
Are you afraid to admit that luck, God, family members, friends, and/or strangers have and will continue to strongly influence your life? I once was – not only was I less happy, I was also weaker. It takes strength to admit to the truth of inter-dependency.
19. Gratitude makes our memories happier.
Our memories are not set in stone, like data stored on a hard-drive. There are dozens of ways our memories get changed over time – we remember things as being worse than they actually were, as being longer or shorter, people as being kinder or crueler, as being more or less interesting, and so on.
Experiencing gratitude in the present makes us more likely to remember positive memories,m1 and actually transforms some of our neutral or even negative memories into positive ones.m2 In one study, putting people into a grateful mood helped them find closure of upsetting open memories.m2 During these experiences, participants were more likely to recall positive aspects of the memory than usual, and some of the negative and neutral aspects were transformed into positives.
20. Gratitude reduces feelings of envy.
A small bit of jealousy or envy directed at the right target is motivating. Too much produces feelings of insecurity, materialism, inferiority, distrust, and unhappiness.
The personality trait of envy has a correlation of -.39 with the personality trait of gratitude. In addition, on days when people experience more gratitude, they are also more likely to experience less envy.e2
This is likely because an attitude of envy and an attitude of gratitude are largely incompatible. Just like it is impossible to feel optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, gratitude is the act of perceiving benevolence, while envy and jealousy is the act of perceiving inadequacy. Benevolence and inadequacy cannot be completely perceived at the same time.
21. Gratitude helps us relax.
Gratitude and positive emotion in general are among the strongest relaxants known to man. I was having trouble sleeping a few nights ago because I was too stressed and couldn’t relax. I’ll be honest, for the few minutes that I was able to hold feelings of gratitude I almost fell asleep, but holding feelings of gratitude is hard! In this case, too hard – I ended up getting out of bed.
Gratitude may be just as or even more effective than relaxation methods such as deep breathing, but because it is also more difficult, is unfeasible as an actual relaxation technique. Think of it like tea – one or two cups help you relax – three of four make you want to empty your bladder. But it could just be me. Perhaps you’ll find practices of gratitude more natural and easy.
22. Gratitude makes you friendlier.
Multiple studies have shown that gratitude induces pro-social behavior. Keeping a gratitude journal is enough to make you more likely to help others with their problems and makes you more likely to offer them emotional support.a2,b1
23. Gratitude helps your marriage.
I’ve never been married, but from what I’ve heard, read, and seen, one way marriages start to suffer is that when the passion starts to fizzle, the partners become less appreciative and more naggy.
Scientists have put numbers to our intuition and experience, creating an appreciation to naggy ratio. More formally called the Losada ratio, it divides the total number of positive expressions (support, encouragement and appreciation) made during a typical interaction by the number of negative expressions (disapproval, sarcasm, and cynicism).
When the ratio was below .9, that is there were 11% more negative expressions than positive expressions, marriages plummeted towards divorce or languishment. Those marriages that lasted and were found satisfying were those with a positivity ratio above 5.1 (five positive expressions to each negative).s1
Building regular practices of gratitude into your marriage is an easy but effective way of raising your positivity ratio.
Does the positivity ratio actually change the dynamics of a marriage, or does it simply reflect underlying happiness or conflict? Would ‘faking’ a higher positivity ratio actually change the dynamics of your marriage, or would it be the same as faking your income on a survey – it may let you temporarily feel better, but it doesn’t actually make you any richer?
There is reason to believe it is both. What we say and how we act becomes who we are. Faking a smile has been shown to actually make people happier. But the effect is only so strong. I believe that for gratitude to truly effect a marriage, it must come from the heart. With enough practice and effort, it can.
P.S. You shouldn’t take the numbers too literally. A good rule of thumb is three or four positives for each negative means you’re doing well.
24. Gratitude makes you look good.
Ingratitude is universally regarded with contempt. It’s opposite, gratitude, is considered a virtue in all major religions and most modern cultures. It may not be sexy to be grateful, but people will respect you for it.
Gratitude is not the same thing as indebtedness, which we rightly avoid. Indebtedness is a negative emotion which carries an assumption of repayment.
Gratitude is not the same thing as weakness. Weakness is flattery or subservience.
Gratitude is the acknowledgment of kindness with thanks.
It takes big balls to acknowledge that we didn’t get to where we are all on our own – that without others we may never have made it. That’s why, just maybe, gratitude may be sexy too.
25. Gratitude helps you make friends.
When I was in college I found it really easy to make new friends. If I hadn’t moved out of NYC it would still be easy – living in a farm town makes it difficult. I’ve found an effective way to start a conversation or move a relationship forward is an expression of gratitude, “thank you for that coffee, it was super delicious.” *wink, wink*
Ah, my mistake – that’s actually what I use to hit on my barista.
But you get the point.
26. Gratitude deepens friendships.
I have one friend who always deeply thanks me for taking the time to see her. That makes me feel appreciated and that makes me feel good. Wouldn’t it make you feel good too?
27. Gratitude makes you a more effective manager.
Effective management requires a toolbox of skills. Criticism comes all too easily to most, while the ability to feel gratitude and express praise is often lacking.
Timely, sincere, specific, behavior focused praise is often a more powerful method of influencing change than criticism. Specifically, multiple studies have found expressions of gratitude to be highly motivating, while expressions of criticism to be slightly de-motivating but providing more expectation clarification.t1,t2
Contrary to expectation, if praise is moderate and behavior focused, repeat expressions of gratitude will not lose their impact, and employee performance will increase.2
Because of our culture, expressions of gratitude are often difficult to give – cultivating an attitude of gratitude will help.
I’ve seen firsthand the powerful difference between interacting with subordinates more with praise, and interacting with some more with criticism. Those I’ve given more praise are more enthusiastic about working with me, express more creativity, and are so much more fun to work with.
28. Gratitude helps you network.
Gratitude has been shown across a number of studies to increase social behavior. Two longitudinal studies showed that those with higher levels of gratitude actually developed more social capital than those with lower levels.
Those who are more grateful are more likely to help others, and to pay it forward, that is, to take on mentoring relationships. But I’m guessing you care more about getting help from mentors and benefactors than being a mentor yourself. Well, that makes sense – having one or more mentors dramatically increases one’s success rate.
The first level is simple – those who are grateful are more social and also more likely to ask for help. But it goes one step further – we all ask for help at one time, one of the key differences between one-off help and establishing a mentoring relationship is gratitude.
Flipped around, what is it that makes a person want to help you on a continuous basis? Gratitude – when their wisdom, experience, and time are well appreciated, mentors will find enjoyment from the process, continuing to help you for weeks, months, or years.
29. Gratitude increases your goal achievement.
In one study, participants were asked to write down those goals which they wished to accomplish over the next two months. Those who were instructed to keep a gratitude journal reported more progress on achieving their goals at the end of the study. One result doesn’t make science – what you should take away from this is that, at the least, gratitude will not make you lazy and passive. It might even do the opposite!
30. Gratitude improves your decision making.
Decision making is really tiring – so tiring that we automate to our subconscious much of the reasoning that goes behind making a decision. Even for the most basic of decisions, like where to go eat, there are dozens of variables to consider: how much time and money do I want to spend, what cuisine would I like today, am I willing to travel far, what should I get once I get there, and so on. If you deliberated on each of these decisions one at a time, your mind would be overwhelmed.
The problem gets even worse for more complex decisions like making a diagnosis.
In one study, doctors were given a list of ailments from a hypothetical patient and also given a misleading piece of information—that the patient had been diagnosed at another hospital as having lupus. Half the doctors had gratitude evoked by giving them a token of appreciation. Those who did not receive a token of appreciation were more likely to stick with the incorrect diagnosis of lupus; those who did receive the gratitude were energized to expend more energy and to pay their gratitude forward onto their patient. They also considered a wider range of treatment options.
The above study shows that gratitude motivates improved decision making. Those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude find tokens of appreciation every day, on their own.
31. Gratitude increases your productivity.
Those who are insecure have difficulty focusing because many of their mental resources are tied up with their worries. On the other hand, those who are highly confident are able to be more productive, because they can direct more of their focus towards their work. This operates at both a conscious and subconscious level – we may be getting mentally distracted by our worries, or more commonly, parts of our subconscious mind are expending energy to suppress negative information and concerns.z1
As gratitude has been shown to increase self-esteem and reduce insecurity, this means that it can help us focus and improve our productivity.
Gratitude is no cure-all, but it is a massively underutilized tool for improving life-satisfaction and happiness.
Positive thoughts and feelings are like hi-test fuel for your brain.
Capturing – labeling, wallowing, and replaying – positive thoughts and feelings will spark the release of even more positive-producing hormones, chemicals, and connecting agents in your brain.
It’s science, not hocus-pocus or feel good mumbo-jumbo.
Positive thoughts and emotions light-up our brains in all the right places, giving us the fuel we need to move forward in a positive direction.
The next time you are feeling particularly perky and positive, warm and fuzzy, or cozy and comfy – capture the moment by:
1. Labeling it.
“Hey, this feels good.” “I feel great.” “I like this.” “I’m happy!” “This feels wonderful.”
2. Wallowing in it.
Think of this step as slipping into a warm bath or soaking-up the sun. (Create the image that works for you – personalizing this step is super important; create the image(s) that work best for you, then allow yourself a moment or two to really let the feeling wash over you. The goal is to come-up with a quick and easy way to imprint the feeling – if conjuring up an image doesn’t work for you, no problem, just let the feeling flow throughout your body.)
3. Replaying it – at will.
Have you ever had one of those moments when the thought of something that happened or what someone did randomly pops into you head and you LOL? That’s the feeling we are going for here, except that we are going to bring the thought back intentionally and allow any and all the good feelings to flow, just like the good feelings you get when you retell or remember a funny story, an episode of your personal “good-ol’ days or a joke.
(I know you can do this, because we do it all the time with negative thoughts. We rehash and relive each and every second of our drama/trauma moments – blow-by-blow, insult and injury. You see, those moments were highly charged, we allowed them to make an impression and they are easier to remember, but with practice you can do the same thing with everyday positive moments and memories, and then use them to recharge yourself.)
The goal is to capture yourself feeling good and give equal time and effort to imprinting those memories. You will build-up a reservoir of good feelings, which will eventually spill over onto your attitude and outlook. And, with time and you will catch yourself feeling happier and happier.
You can choose what you record and replay. Why not capture happy?
I’m with three of my eight siblings and my oldest son for my niece’s wedding this weekend. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful and happy I am to be with them, which I think is the perfect segue to share with you author and positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky’s eight ways gratitude boosts happiness from her book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want.
2. Gratitude may increase a sense of confidence and self-worth, by encouraging you to consider what you value about your current life.
3. Gratitude helps you cope with difficulties.
4. Gratitude encourages kindness and other moral behavior.
5. Gratitude helps strengthen relationships.
6. Gratitude inhibits envy.
7. Gratitude helps undermine negative emotions.
8. Gratitude keeps us from taking the good things for granted.
I do believe Sonja’s right, so when we set off at 4 a.m. yesterday morning, I immediately began savoring the moments. One of the things I love about road trips is drinking coffee and eating peppered beef jerky in the car. Strange but true, I love the combo, but only in the early a.m. in a speeding automobile! I guess it awakens my brain to the fact that life is good and fun is on the way!
By 5 a.m. I had opened the bag of jerky, gnawed a strip or two, and downed a cup of still piping hot homemade coffee, which sharpened my senses and allowed me to take special note of the fog-tipped marshes and slow-moving rivers of north Florida and Georgia as the sun rose, backlighting these natural wonders.
As South Carolina came into view, I spent time thinking about my life and how happy I was for all the wonderful folks in it. I took the time to reflect and remember the good times I’d shared with my sisters, and how we’ve supported each other when times were tougher than we wanted them to be.
By the North Carolina border, I was convinced I was the luckiest woman in the world, and was brimming with gratitude and tears just thinking about it. These warm and cozy feelings helped me push aside my mental laundry list of things to do or left undone, and let me fully enjoy the moment and anticipate the fun that was waiting for me up the road. I couldn’t wait to see my sisters, nieces and nephews, hang-out with my son, and to meet the bride and groom’s friends and extended family – I love the way marriage interlaces and connects us to one another.
Well, I am knee-deep in family and new friends, and loving it. I’m not taking one minute of this gathering or the beauty of the North Carolina hills and mountains for granted. I really do believe that each moment we are grateful makes our lives and our experiences richer and more rewarding.
Now, if I can just find a way to use gratitude to help me stop coveting the fabulous collection of shoes and dresses my younger sister brought with her, I think this will be a perfect weekend!
I hope that wherever you are this week – friends, family and a closet full of really great shoes are nearby.
PS I think I found a way – I am very grateful my kid sister is always willing to share her heart, her clothes, and her shoes with me! Thank you, Deb. I love you!
Yes, you! You are uniquely designed to be good at certain stuff. How cool is that? Positive psychology studies show that one of the best ways to feel happy and fulfilled in your life is to identify and use your personal strengths to accomplish the “stuff” that best suits you.
Having and exercising your Character Strengths is nothing new, yet sometimes we have to be in just the right mood to move forward on something, so I am mentioning it today incase the spirit of the Olympics inspired you this weekend, and you are wondering what you can do to pursue your personal best.
Why not get started by taking the VIA Charcter Strength Survey to find out more about yourself and what makes you uniquely you. It only takes 15 -20 minutes, and it’s free. Not a bad investment for such a positive return; it could be the beginning of a whole new you or maybe just a more “fit” you, because once you discover your strengths and begin exercising them, you can increase your happiness and your sense of fulfillment.
Don’t miss out on exercising your strengths, it’s a workout that can keep you fit for the rest of your life! Think of it as the Olympics for your mind! It only take a few clicks and less than 30 minutes to discover and begin exercising what makes you, uniquely you!
After you have completed the survey, click here to receive your free Wishful Thinking Works Circle of Strengths, which can help you exercise your strengths and work your way up to your personal gold medal of happiness!
If you are ready to go for the gold in your personal life, having a coach can help you focus and move forward faster.