Good news and bad news.
Happiness precedes success.
So let me start with the good news on that. When you can become happy now, not having to wait for something to happen for you to be happy, you are more likely to lead yourself to success.
The bad news is that if you have a hard time being happy and believe that if X,Y and Z happens in your life, you can then be happy…you will be waiting extra long since happiness precedes success.
Ok, having said that, the whole purpose of the Just Little Bit Happier Project is to break down the research on happiness into practical steps to increase happiness one day at a time.
So, today, you will learn one practical thing to do to increase happiness. The fantastic thing is that it will increase it on its own.
Let’s get into it.
What does the research say about happiness and success?
I’m focusing on five studies that studied the effects of mindset and happiness.
“Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-being in Daily Life” by Emmons & McCullough (2003): In this study, they researched the impact of gratitude on our happiness and well-being. They asked people to spend ten weeks writing about what they felt thankful for or their daily annoyances. Then, they wanted to see how these different focuses might affect people’s happiness.
“Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention: A Conceptual and Empirical Review” by Ruth A. Baer (2003): In this study, Baer examined the effects of mindfulness or focusing on the present moment. She wanted to understand how this approach could boost our mental health and happiness.
“Positivity and the Construction of Life Satisfaction” by Michael F. Steger, Shigehiro Oishi, and Todd B. Kashdan (2009): Steger, Oishi, and Kashdan explored how a positive mindset influences our life satisfaction. They were interested in how focusing on the good things in life can shape our overall contentment.
“The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?” by Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener (2005): In this paper, Lyubomirsky, King, and Diener reviewed multiple studies to investigate the relationship between happiness and success. They wanted to understand whether being happy leads to success or if it’s the other way around.
Three good things in life: Reversing the focus from depression to positive life events” by Seligman et al. (2005): They examined how focusing on positive life events could help reduce depressive symptoms. They asked people to write about three good things that happened to them each day and studied how this practice affected their mood.
So, what did they find? Can we independently increase our happiness and, in doing so, improve our success?
What research has to say about how to be successful in life through happiness.
Once again, the findings tell about our ability to be majestic despite circumstances.
Here are the findings on the connection between our thoughts, happiness, and success:
Expressing Gratitude: Emmons and McCullough found that focusing on what we’re grateful for can boost our happiness and well-being.
Practicing Mindfulness: Baer’s study showed that staying present and engaged with what we’re doing now can significantly improve our mental health and happiness.
Focusing on Positivity: Steger, Oishi, and Kashdan found that by concentrating on the good things in life, we can increase our satisfaction with life.
Cultivating Happiness for Success: Lyubomirsky, King, and Diener discovered that being happy often comes before being successful, suggesting that developing a positive mindset can lead to better outcomes in life.
Reflecting on Good Things: Seligman and his team found that focusing on positive life events can lift our mood and potentially reduce depressive symptoms.
The research on happiness clearly shows that happiness can be cultivated by practicing gratitude, staying present, focusing on the positive, and reflecting on the good things in our lives.
But, to become just a little bit happier, you will begin by doing just one thing.
How to Start a Gratitude List
You’ll start a gratitude list. That’s it. That’s the entire step you’ll take to increase happiness.
Why? Because being in gratitude will naturally work on your behalf to make you happier, and by being happier, you will make decisions that lead you to success.
Start a Gratitude List:
Make it a priority to do it in the morning. Set aside a few minutes each day, preferably in the morning, to dedicate to your gratitude practice.
Begin with the basics. Start by focusing on the simple things you are grateful for. It could be a delicious cup of coffee, your bed, that you have clothes to put on your body, the sun, etc. Allow yourself to appreciate the small things that often go unnoticed.
Be specific (this part is crucial). Be specific and detailed as you write down your gratitude list. And connect it to a why. For example, instead of writing, “I’m grateful for my bed,” express why you are grateful for it. For example, “I’m grateful that I have a bed each night to sleep on, and that it’s comfortable.”
Go beyond material things in your gratitude list. While material possessions are fine to include in your list, also include experiences, relationships, personal qualities, or moments of personal growth that have impacted your life positively.
Make your gratitude list daily, even if it’s one thing you list. Consistency is vital to developing a gratitude practice. Aim to write in your gratitude list daily, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Over time, this habit will become second nature.
If you skip a day, do it the next day. You’re not giving up on the list because you forgot to do it one or two days. Instead, you’ll start that same day and keep going.
How will I know my gratitude list is working?
Something I absolutely love about the research on happiness is that it shows many times that positive thoughts do the work for us.
You will notice that you start to have optimism. Over time, you bounce back faster after a low moment and catch yourself making wiser choices in life (which often lead to success). You may notice that your physical health improves.
Trust that it will work for you. And start your gratitude list today.