Our coaching clients and I have been diving deep into the world of happiness this month.
Happiness is a big focus of mine because I want to be happy and believe everyone deserves happiness. One of my goals in coaching is to help clients increase their happiness.
Before you dismiss happiness as irrelevant, know that happiness is actually a precursor to success. Joy and happiness come from within us when we’re living on purpose and our actions are congruent with who we are and want to be. When this is true, natural optimism occurs and we’re better equipped to navigate the hard road that leads to success. So, if you want to be successful, you better be happy first.
Happiness is created by intentional actions. One of the main ways of cultivating happiness we see all over pop-psychology and research-based literature is gratitude. I trust that this isn’t the first time you’ve ever read that gratitude increases happiness. Frankly, it’s almost cliche at this point.
If there’s basically universal agreement on the influence of gratitude on our happiness, the variance is on the best ways to practice gratitude.
With our coaching clients this month, we’ve been learning from The Book of Joy (I’ve referenced it a couple weeks ago in the post I Didn’t Want to Write This) authored by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In the book, one of the qualities of the heart that creates joy in us is gratitude. No big surprise there.
What struck me is the specific way these two spiritual leaders suggest to practice gratitude.
One of my biggest educational efforts this year is to learn the why & the how behind mental exercises. In coaching through NLP and other modalities I’ve seen the result of mental & emotional work. My quest is to learn from science-based research to provide both proof and best practices on mental exercises & focuses that can help high performers achieve more.
Recently, Shawn Achor, an expert researcher focused on human happiness, did a keynote for Keller Williams. He talked about recent research for the best ways to practice gratitude. The studies Shawn referenced have been conducted and reported within the past few years.
Both current research and the spiritual leaders prescribe virtually the exact same gratitude practice. The cool part is that the book was published in 2016, before the research was complete.
When “old-world” spirituality and new research-based literature agree, that is a solid recipe. It’s the manifestation of heart (spiritual) and mind (science) coming together as one.
The gratitude practice is simple:
- Recall 3 specific things from the day for which you are grateful
- Write those down in a journal
That’s it. Hundreds of years of spirituality and hundreds of hours of research boiled down to two simple steps.
The research says that the key to this exercise is finding different things to be grateful for each day. We can’t just be grateful for our family, home & business everyday. When we look to find new and specific things to be grateful for it triggers that gratitude feeling that creates happiness.
Plus, research shows that when this is a daily practice, the feeling of gratitude permeates the full day because our minds are always on the search for something to be grateful for. And, the act of journaling makes our minds digest & process gratitude through the act of writing. A simple practice from traditions that is backed in research.
Here’s my challenge for you. Since you’ve read this far, you can take 5 more minutes. Think of 3 specific things from the past 24 hours for which you are grateful. Get as specific as possible. Write those things down. I’d love to hear how you feel after you do it. Reach out and let me know!
Remember, happiness is a precursor to success. Increase your overall happiness & joy and you’ll find that success in all pillars of life will follow.