Written by Jim Stovall
All of us want to be successful, but there are many definitions of success. I am a firm believer that the best definitions of success must include happiness. In my field of psychology, there have been many recent studies regarding why people are happy and what factors make them happy. Ironically, the elements that most of us believe make us successful including health, wealth, connections, and material possessions don't really seem to make us happy.
Researchers have found two consistent elements that universally seem to make human beings achieve and maintain happiness. These two factors are giving and gratitude. While there are many diverse factors that can contribute to happiness, giving and gratitude seem to be instrumental in achieving and maintaining a high level of happiness.
As in many life principals, this at first glance seems to be counterintuitive. If we give something away, we have less, and if we thank others around us, it would seem to impact them more than us; however, the evidence conclusively points to the fact that if we consistently give of our time and resources, and if we are grateful for what we have and readily express our gratitude, we become happy.
Giving should be a consistent factor in how we spend our time and money. It's not enough just to write a check. The more you become personally involved in giving your effort and energy, the happier you will be. No matter how much or little financial resources you may have, a portion of every dollar you earn should be given away. Here in America, we seem to spend more than we have, and most people have some type of investment or savings plan, but few among us make giving a consistent priority.
There are many resources available to check nonprofit and charitable organization with respect to how efficient and effective they are with donations. Just like money you spend or save, you should make sure the dollars you give away stretch as far as possible.
I believe gratitude impacts our happiness because it causes us to focus on the good things in our lives. Rarely is anything all good or all bad. Most of us can think of things to complain about and things to be thankful for each day. Gratitude causes us to constantly look on the bright side which I suspect is why it makes us happy.
Think of the people who have made contributions to your life and success. If you've never properly thanked them, it should be among your top priorities today, and even if you have thanked them, it's always good to reconnect and let them know they are still a valuable part of who you are. You will make their day, and you will inevitably find that you are experiencing happiness.
As you go through your day today, focus on giving and gratitude, and be happy.
Today's the day!