Your Words and Your Happiness
Happiness is a new hot topic in our culture. Everyone wants the formula for achieving the elusive emotion. Plenty of “5 Step/How To” articles exist, plotting your course to happiness. Phrases like “happiness is a choice” and “make happiness a habit” are bitter sweet to read. You know them to be true, but it’s not as easy as a catch phrase might imply.
I’m just like everyone else. I’m trying to live the best life that I can, and grounding myself in happiness is a big part of that. And, since I’m fascinated by the power of words, I wanted to know if communication could make you happier.
If you want to quickly access to your happiness, anyone who has done any research in the area will say that gratitude gives you warp speed to being happy.
Study after study has shown that people who incorporate gratitude in their life:
- have better immune systems
- have a more positive and optimistic perspective, even when faced with problems
- are more compassionate
- experience less loneliness and isolation
All of that sounds great!
But here’s the problem…
Most resources talk about experiencing gratitude in a gratitude bubble. They say to keep a gratitude journal; write down 5-10 things you are grateful for every morning and/or night. They also say to meditate while focusing on gratitude. Take a moment to be mindful of what you are gratitude for and feel the feelings of appreciation.
These are great. They change your chemistry, hormone levels shift, and you can easily feel happy with a grateful heart.
But, gratitude should not be a selfish act.
Reserving your gratitude for your journal and yoga mat will only get you so far.
The full experience of gratitude and appreciation comes from expressing it to others.
Influencers know that the act of giving appreciation can be one of the most powerful influential techniques because we are a society starved for appreciation.
We move so quickly today, hopping from home to car to work to emails to Facebook to meetings to car to parties to home again. Very few people know how to carve out time for themselves, much less a few moments to express gratitude to another human being.
And yet, its effects can be pivotal.
In my research for this article, I came across a video on one of my favorite YouTube channels, SoulPancake, which is founded by actor Rainn Wilson from The Office. The channel has a series called, “The Science of Happiness,” which I highly recommend.
In the video, volunteers are asked to write a letter about a person who has had a profound effect on their lives.
Then, the volunteers are surprised and asked to call that person and read their letter to them.
The video is worth watching.
But, here is what I found very interesting that the video/experiment didn’t cover…each participant was initially resistant to the idea of calling the person and reading the letter.
I wondered, “Why is that?!”
We all want to be appreciated and recognized, but we are hesitant to do so for others.
Fear of being rejected and fear of vulnerability hold us back from connecting with people in a profound way. When you share your appreciation, you get the same yummy chemical concoction in your body as you do from writing in your journal or meditating, but you will also create that same experience for someone else!
Double trouble of awesomeness!
As cheesy as it may sound, telling someone why you appreciate them is one of the most touching and heartfelt gifts you can give someone.
(I also find it interesting that the people who received the phone call didn’t know what to say or how to react. It is so rare that we hear appreciation from others, that we don’t know what we should do in those moments. But, perhaps that’s a discussion for another day.)
In honor of the video, I am issuing you a gratitude challenge:
CHOOSE YOUR CHALLENGE:
- Follow the steps in the video and read your letter of gratitude to someone, over the phone or face to face.
OR, if that’s too big of a jump for you, you can take the mini-gratitude challenge…
- Choose 5 people who you will appreciate this week. In a casual conversation, tell someone what it is about them that you appreciate.
OR, you can push yourself for challenge #3…
- Identify one person who you do not get along with and give them recognition and appreciation.
AND I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
In the comments section below, let me know how it goes. What happened? Was it difficult or easy? What was their reaction?
If you enjoyed this article, I would love it if you clicked on any of the pretty social media buttons to share it with your friends and followers. If you gained some new insights, please share. Thanks!