Very often, I hear people say things like “I’ll be happy when I lose weight, I’ll be happy when I finish college, get a promotion, find a spouse, have more money etc.” The truth is that if you’re waiting for happiness in the present, you’ll be waiting for it in the future. According to Harvard University Professor of Psychology, Daniel Gilbert, “people believe that if good things happen, they’re going to be ecstatic and that joy will last a very long time, in fact they are ecstatic and the joy quickly dissipates”. Although it’s human nature to want more, a movie I watched over the weekend suggested a habit to prevent the aforementioned.
The documentary “Happy” (check it out on Netflix) conducted a study which asked students to make a weekly list of five things they were grateful for. After a few weeks of reinforcing their blessings, the students who counted their blessings the most became happier than the students who had forgotten to write them down. Other studies asked people to commit random acts of kindness (i.e. putting change in someone else’s parking meter, assisting another with a project, or volunteering at a nursing home) on a regular basis. The studies showed that committing altruistic acts had the most positive effect on happiness levels. Last month, I volunteered at a soup kitchen and was so overcome by the amount of happiness I felt, that I committed to volunteering once a month.
Begin writing your list of five things you have to be grateful for, and set a weekly reminder on your calendar or cell phone to re-write the list each week. I guarantee you have more than five blessings!
p.s. excuse any grammatical errors on this post (my original was accidentally deleted forcing me to remember and re-write everything all over again) .