On Monday night, my girlfriend treated me to the Imagine Dragons concert in Phoenix at the U.S. Airways Center as her Valentine’s Day present to me. Towards the end of the show, the lead singer Dan Reynolds dedicated a song to a boy named Tyler Robinson who, he said, passed away at age 17 this past year after battling cancer for four years. Even though he was fighting for his life, Dan said he always had a smile on his face and was just happy to be alive. The story and song reminded me of the lesson just recently: the key to happiness is gratitude.
I learned this lesson from teachers, professors, and speakers over the years but it never really hit home until I watched these two TED talk videos about happiness.
The first talk is titled The happy secret to better work by Shawn Achor. Basically, he explains how society teaches us that success leads to happiness. If we are successful, we will be happy. However, he says that studies have shown that once we reach our goal, we feel satisfied but the feeling is only temporary. Later, he explains that we can do 5 simple tasks everyday to train our brain to think differently and to be happy with life. Here they are:
3 Gratitudes (Write down 3 things you’re thankful for. Brain begins to write a pattern to see the world more positively.)
Journaling (About one ore more positive experiences you have had over the last 24 hrs teaches your brain to re-live these moments.)
Exercise (Teaches your brain that behavior matters)
Meditation (Detaches you from multi-tasking. Increases your focus on the task at hand)
Random Acts of Kindness (ex. 1 positive email thanking someone)
He challenges you to try these things for 21 days see if you feel happier as a result. From my own experience, I try to do these things everyday after having watched this video and feel more positive and happier in life.
The second talk is titled Want to be happy? Be grateful by David Steindl-Rast. The purpose of his talk is to remind us to slow down and be grateful of everything in life. The one idea that I really agreed with that he repeated over and over is the idea that every single second in life is another opportunity to live. It’s another chance to be thankful that you can breathe and experience life. I, myself, have been taking that for granted all my life and it made me stop and remember that I could die any second. I have no idea when I’m going to breathe my last breath. No one does, which is why we should be thankful for every opportunity given to us.
The last thing I want to mention about gratitude is the expression, “At least…” that we use in English. Think about it-when do we use this expression and why do we use it? It exists, in my opinion, specifically for us to point out the positive aspects of any given situation. To look at the bright side. To stop and realize, “Hey, this could be worse.” Think about that. The next time you’re talking to someone, consider this phrase and see if you can use it. See if you can hold back the corners of your mouth stretching out into a big, wide smile after you say it and maybe you’ll surprise yourself 🙂