Inspiration and lessons for your leadership journey!
“If being happy is important to us, then gratefulness is important; because it is gratefulness that makes us happy."
~ Brother David Steindl-Rast ~
Do you want to be happy? A very influential phrase from the Declaration of Independence has become a part of our American identity. It is the belief that we are endowed by our “Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We want to be happy. There’s good reason to be happy. Besides just feeling good, it is now well-established in the literature that happy people are more successful than less happy people in every avenue of life.
Happy people tend to earn more money, get promoted, have better relationships, are more empathic, are healthier, and even live longer than less happy people.
The American Paradox. From the time we are born, however, we are bombarded with false messages that money brings us happiness. When we land the great job, get the corner office, drive that sexy car, have the latest and greatest ‘toys,’ can afford expensive clothes and shoes, find ‘Miss or Mister Right,’ and have lots of money – suddenly and magically we will be happy.
These ‘carrots’ – and more – are held out in front of us our whole lives. We are taught from a very early age that they will bring us happiness and fulfillment.
And yet, despite great affluence and abundance in the United States and other developed countries, many people feel empty and the research demonstrates that happiness levels and subjective well-being measures have decreased. This is called the “American Paradox.” As Americans’ personal income doubled from 1970s into the new millennium, the percentage of people reporting that they are very happy actually fell.
The research clearly shows that, unless you are in extreme poverty, money does not buy happiness. So, if happiness leads to success in every life domain and money doesn’t buy happiness; what does generate happiness?
Gratefulness makes us happy. Brother Steindl-Rast gives us the answer in the opening quote. Research has consistently demonstrated that nurturing gratitude increases individual happiness – and what better time to be grateful than during the Thanksgiving season?
How can you nurture gratitude? The most powerful and long-lasting technique that researchers have discovered is keeping a Gratitude Journal. Here’s what you do:
At the end of each day, before you’re too sleepy, make a list of 3-5 things that you are grateful for that day and the reason why. So that it looks something like this:
I am grateful for [fill in the blank] because [reason why].
Keep a gratitude journal for twenty-one days and you can transform your life! There are more techniques about how to generate gratitude and happiness in my new book, A Travel Guide to Leadership.
What are you grateful for? We all have so much to be thankful for! Over 1.4 billion people have no access to electricity worldwide. About 3 billion people have to use solid fuels—wood, charcoal, coal and dung—for cooking and heating. About 2.6 billion people – half the developing world – lack even a simple ‘improved’ latrine and 1.1 billion people have no access to any type of improved drinking source of water.
Let’s make every day a day of thanksgiving – not just the holidays. By nurturing gratitude every day, not only will you be happier, you’ll be more successful, too!
(Repeat these quietly to yourself multiple times throughout the day.)
I look for something to be thankful for every chance I get.
Being grateful brings me and others joy.
I am loved and appreciated!
I am grateful for [fill in the blank] because [fill in the blank].
Happy Thanksgiving and…
Have an amazing journey today!
Alan Mikolaj is a a professional, experienced, positive, and passionate speaker, leadership and organizational development consultant, change agent, author, and coach. He holds his Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Sam Houston State University. He is a certified graduate coach from Coaching Out of the Box and holds his ACC and membership with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
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In his third book, A Travel Guide to Leadership, Alan offers you simple, fundamental, and powerful lessons that have the power to transform you, your relationships, and your career.