The results are finally in. According to former Harvard researcher, Shawn Acher in his book, “The Happiness Advantage”, happiness affects your future success, more than your success affects your future happiness.
In other words, saying you’ll be happy AFTER you become successful is putting the cart before the horse i.e. the best way to increase your chance of being successful, is to be happy first.
And then he goes on to say, one of the best ways to ensure long-term, sustainable, day-to-day happiness is by simply being grateful. It turns out those nice folk at Sunday School who told us us kids to “count your blessings” knew what they were talking about.
But the thing is- and this is what I find most interesting- Shawn says it’s not enough to be grateful for the usual stuff- health, family, prosperity etc- but the brain needs novelty, the brain continually needs to find NEW things to feel grateful about.
I’m grateful for this cup of coffee. I’m grateful for this view out of the coffee shop window. I’m grateful for that nice barista smiling at me earlier. And so on. Like meditation, it’s not an event, it’s a practice.
Shawn suggests that we find three new things every day to feel grateful for. And if we do this uninterrupted for 21 one days, that’s enough time for the brain to make it a habit (three weeks is how long it takes to form habits in the brain, apparently), and the end result will be an increase in happiness overall.
And more happiness equals more success. And we all want more success. So there you are.
On a personal note, as I get older and all things associated with youth start disappearing at a disconcertingly increasing rate, I find Shawn’s idea totally right on. Without gratitude, life seems so bland and colorless.
Gratitude is what gives life its edge. Hopefully we can all experience more of it.