Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Thoughts On Happiness
Yesterday we had an all-school staff and faculty meeting to kick off the new year. Part of the main presentation was about two recent books, one of which, "The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor, led to a discussion about what creates happiness. (I haven't read this book, but our head of school did.) The gist of the book is that success doesn't create happiness -- happiness, instead, creates success.
Let me just say that I am not a fan of self-help books. When people start talking about success, my eyes glaze over.
But I was interested in the list of five factors that lead to happiness, as outlined in the presentation by our head of school (and I confess I'm not sure whether these came from the book or elsewhere):
-- Make a list of three good things a day
-- Find something to look forward to
-- Express your gratitude
-- Spend money (but not on stuff)
-- Cultivate work friendships
As I listened to the presentation it occurred to me why I'm so insistent about blogging (and before that, journaling). Not only does it create a record of my life, thereby assisting my own pathetically inadequate memory, but it fulfills both the first and the third items on that list. I usually try to keep my blog relatively positive, and I post all the time about the cool things I come across or the experiences I have in a given day. I don't know that I necessarily mention three good things every day -- let's not get crazy! -- but the number, I suspect, doesn't matter as much as simply acknowledging that good things happen regularly.
As for stuff, as my friends know, I have never been much of a stuff person -- but I seldom hesitate to spend money on traveling or experiences.
I don't mean to suggest I'm the paragon of happiness. But I think being able to find beauty in the commonplace, and being interested in what's around us, definitely leads to a more positive state of mind. The list is simplistic, like all self-help advice, but there is a kernel of truth to it.
And on that note, I am going to go walk the dog, who is lying across my lap in a rather awkward and insistent fashion, making it very hard for me to type.
(Photos: A back alley in South Hampstead.)