I’m reading a book, The Happiness Advantage, that is built not the premise that our state of mind determines our success. Simply put, happiness makes you successful, rather than the conventional belief that success makes you happy.
Its a non fiction book, full of scientific support – both theoretical and experimentally tested – that shows that people who are happy and/or focus on happiness are far more successful and fulfilled. The idea is that if we approach things with a happy and positive attitude, success will ensue.
An amazing example I read last night. A group of 70 year old men spent a week at a resort that was transformed to 20 years in the past. The resort had newspapers and TV programs from 20 years ago; guests were encouraged to debate political issues they were engaged in 20 years ago, and they did activities they did 20 years ago. Essentially, they were told to live like they were 50 years old, rather than 70 years old. The findings were amazing. Their health improved – 10% improvement in insight, improvement in cardiovascular health, they got physically stronger. And mentally they were sharper, scoring better on standard tests’ their posture improved. It was startling… by acting younger they become physically younger.
It caused me to focus on the importance of the attitude we bring into life. My family, we lead a pretty messed life – good kids, good relationship, good friends, great sex and financial security. But my wife has been going through a bit of a challenging period. Within a couple months, there was a work setback, a relationship setback w a friend and a health issue. These are all things we’re not uses to dealing with. Yet, at the same time, we have a lot a super positive elements of our lives.
So last night, we both made a pledge (it was an idea in the book) to, even night, list three things from the day that were happy. For me (we are on a southern vacation with inflows now), my three were
- our youngest daughter was at her most mature and helpful today – cheerful, helpful around the house, super fun as we played pool volleyball and did her ‘vacation homework – yes, I’m an ogre, I assign vacation homework – with keenness;
- our older daughter really, really didn’t want to come swimming with my other daughter and I. I had to make her come and she was unhappy about it Yet, as soon as she got in the pool she did not sulk but played joyfully with us for about an hour
- My wife’s parents are happy and in great spirits – not always the case so its great to see when they are.