On February 23, 2019, this link landed in my email. That was a Saturday. Recording and reflecting on the notes I took ate up most of that day, and it was one of the best days I had had in a very long time.
https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/the-1-key-word-to-happiness – Link below the list of three.
Since then, my life has changed in so many ways; mostly in one happy way.
Very little of what follows (the word, “Enjoy!” below) is original writing and I’ve cited many sources along the way. If this raises any red flags regarding copyright issues, I’ll take down this post and keep it as a private document. Proper citation is something I respect, and I hope I’ve done it well with the links below.
The investment I make in myself pays the greatest return. My happiness, real or imagined, is the key to living my best life.
With all I do and think, I build a better version of myself.
January 6, 2020
I’m editing this for the first time, seven weeks after its initial publication, as I see it was written in haste. To save time for readers who may not have much, I’ll summarize here the main points of this post.
- Pay attention to what is good in your life right now. When you focus your vision on the beauty and wonder of it all, more of it (all that good and beautiful and wonderful stuff) will come into your life.
- Count your blessings daily. Write them down, writing them on paper, or in a document on your computer makes them more real and easier to remember. Anything good thing that happens to you qualifies as a listing here and if you want to make a longer list, look back on your life and list every good thing that has ever happened to you. This should be a never-ending process, or at least take you days, weeks, and months to do well.
- Gratitude leads to happiness. Be grateful for your next breath, be grateful your heart is beating without needing anything from you to continue that lovely task, before you get out of bed, or even think about getting out of bed or anything else you will do that day, express gratitude in real words, out loud to the universe. “Thank you for my next breath.” Breathe in. “Thank you for my beating heart and this wonderful container of a body that contains my soul, my spirit.” Breathe in. “Thank you for the health that allows me to get out of bed and start a new day.” Lather, rinse, repeat. There’s no time limit and you can do this all day!
What follows are the notes I took on that day. Enjoy!
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Your happiness is determined
by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to
drives your behavior and it determines your happiness. Attention is the glue
that holds your life together… The scarcity of attentional resources means that
you must consider how you can make and facilitate better decisions about what
to pay attention to and in what ways. If you are not as happy as you could be,
then you must be misallocating your attention… So changing behavior and
enhancing happiness is as much about withdrawing attention from the negative as
it is about attending to the positive.
Don’t pay so much attention to the bad.
Pay more attention to the good. Stop looking for problems. Enjoy what you have.
Gratitude is arguably the king of happiness.
…the more a person is inclined to gratitude,
the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or
You must teach your brain to seek out
the good things in life. Research shows merely listing three things you
are thankful for each day can make a big difference.
Every night for the
next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three
things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or
your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a
physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in
importance (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way
home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth
to a healthy baby boy”). Next to each positive event, answer the question
“Why did this happen?”
…pay attention to what’s happening right now.
If you were focused on right now, bang, you’d be happier.
Be the exception. It’s simple. Try shifting your attention to the good around you.
Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think
the human peacock’s tail from:
Things research shows the happiest people have in common.
Via The How of Happiness:
- They devote a great
amount of time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying hose
- They are comfortable
expressing gratitude for all they have.
- They are often the
first to offer helping hands to coworkers and passersby.
- They practice optimism
when imagining their futures.
- They savor life’s
pleasures and try to live in the present moment.
- They make physical
exercise a weekly and even daily habit.
- They are deeply committed
to lifelong goals and ambitions (e.g., fighting fraud, building cabinets, or
teaching their children their deeply held values).
- Finally, the happiest
people do have their share of stresses, crises, and even tragedies. They may
become just as distressed and emotional in such circumstances as you or me,
but their secret weapon is the poise and strength they show in coping in
the face of challenge.
Are you paying attention to what makes you happy and what doesn’t?
When something makes you really happy, jot it down. Then do that thing
more often. Daniel Nettle jokingly refers to this as “Pleasant Activity
This staggeringly complex technique consists of determining which
activities are pleasant, and doing them more often.
Yeah, it’s stupidly simple. But as Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker explained in my interview with her, you probably don’t do it:
…people who spend more time on projects that energize them and with
people who energize them tend to be happier. However, what is interesting
is that there is often a gap between where people say they want to
spend their time and how they actually spend their time. For
example, if you ask people to list the projects that energize (vs. deplete)
them, and what people energize (vs. deplete) them, and then monitor how they
actually spend their time, you find a large percentage know what projects
and people energize them, but do not in fact spend much time on those projects
and with those people.
——- message to Eric ————-
“Said nobody, ever…”
Thank you for keeping everything working as it should be!
Hint: I’ve been in computer support for way too long.
Thank you, Eric, for what you have done. I’m enjoying reading your article on happiness
via The Ladders website. And now I have three pages of notes and excerpts in a
Word document for future reference.
I’ve found a few things that make me stupidly happy and I’m now going to focus most of my time
and effort on those activities.
That is what I call a “precious gem” and when I do write my book, you’ll be in the credits
and gratitude section of the introduction.
By the way, your use of the words, “stupid” and “ridiculous” fit right in with
the need to reduce my sensitivity to such flagrant triggers…
So, thanks, again, my new friend.
——- end of message ————–
I’m SO lucky!
Good luck is
a state of mind.
It’s your perspective — the way you view
your environment and how you choose to perceive and interact with your world.
A belief in luck can provide self-confidence. It can also reduce
anxiety and improve performance. — Matthew Hutton, The
7 Laws of Magical Thinking.
Thing to do:
Try out alternative ways of thinking to attract new
opportunities and reframe how ‘lucky’ you think you are.
- Do regular things different than normal
- Walk home a new way
- Talk to people you normally would not
- Exercise more often
- Be conscious of your body language
- Meditate or do yoga
- Keep up your social connections
When you focus more on interacting with others (less
directly on what you want from them), you start to attract the type of luck you
may have been missing till now.