The 3 Habits of Happiness
1) Number one, gratitude. What I do, I have right here, I’m just going to show you. I have my journal and almost everywhere I go I have my journal with me, and I write in my journal. A lot of what I write in my journal is daily gratitude. Here I am in South Africa. I’m at the Singita Game Reserve. I’m at a beautiful lodge. There’s a fireplace behind me right now. This morning I woke up and I saw a number of the big five animals eating or grazing right outside of my room. And so, in my journal I am going to write about where I am and what the stars looked like last night and the meal that we enjoyed. I was in Botswana yesterday morning, getting to share the “Lead Without a Title” message with all those people. I just write all the big things and little things that I’m grateful for. Sometimes, it takes five minutes. Sometimes, I write for an hour.
The key idea to remember is our minds are hard wired for ingratitude. It was a survival mechanism that was valuable thousands of years ago when we lived out on the savanna, but it no longer serves us right now. Most of us have roofs over our heads. Most of us have enough food to eat. And yet, we still focus on what’s wrong in our lives. It’s a biological instinct we have to fight. And how do you do that? Focused gratitude. And a great way to do it is write in your journal. Do it everyday. You start to hard wire your brain, and actually you start to refocus the way you see the world. We know to be successful in business and successful in life – is about spotting possibilities where others are looking for problems.
2) Number two, and this is a very simple one. but remember to savor. A lot of the work the pioneers in the field of positive psychology talk about is savoring life. So when you’re drinking a cup of coffee, don’t just drink a cup of coffee while you’re thinking about your emails. Drink a cup of coffee and actually savor, savor the flavor. Savor the coffee. Savor your environment. If you start to go through life and you savor the breeze and you savor, maybe, the car drive and you savor your conversation with your teammate at work or your children at home, life starts to take on a much richer context.
3) The final thing in terms of happiness habit is find work that matters or even more importantly, find meaning in your work. I have been here in Africa and I’ve interviewed, and you probably saw this on another one of my video blogs, but I interviewed a hotel housekeeper and I said, “Did you like your job?” and she almost was breathless. She said, “I can’t believe how much I love my job.” All I’m saying is a job is only just a job if you chose to see it as a job. All work is a chance to be of service. All work is a chance to express your gifts and talents. All work is a chance to be helpful to other human beings. All work is a chance to change the world. It’s up to you to find meaning in your work, whether you’re a street sweeper, whether you’re a police officer, whether you’re a teacher, whether you’re an astronaut, whether you’re an entrepreneur. To find the meaning in your work so that everyday you feel like you’re on a mission and that’s a great source of happiness.