Gratitude, Happiness, and Meaning #7: The Greatest of Virtues
#7. “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” (Cicero)
There is more to life than happiness and gratitude. Happiness is momentary; it’s present thinking. “Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring. It connects the past to the present to the future. How do the happy life and the meaningful life differ? Happiness, they found, is about feeling good. Specifically, the researchers found people who are happy tend to think that life is easy, they are in good physical health, and they are able to buy the things that they need and want. In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants. People who have high meaning in their lives are more likely to help others in need.”—Emily Esfahani Smith
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can train your brain for happiness. “The human brain is hardwired to focus on threats and imperfections, yet you can flip the switch.” The Mayo Clinic suggests the 5-3-2 Plan to switch the brain to think in terms of gratitude and compassion. 5: Choose five people to be grateful for in your life each day. 3: Take three minutes at night with your loved ones to be interested in his or her life and praise them. 2: Approach people in a positive manner. Take the first two seconds on an encounter to mentally wish them well.
Our own bad habits, mental and physical health conditions, childhoods, and images we see in media have an impact on our lives. When we see actors, athletes, and models in media they often are presented looking their best. Or shall we say computer graphics best. It is healthy to keep this in mind, rather than contrasting ourselves to images and then reaching for ___________ (whatever the temptation) to momentarily make us feel better. That is not real happiness.
“Real happiness doesn't come from getting everything you want. It comes from sharing what you have with people who matter. Opportunities to show compassion and caring require stepping out of your comfort zone. The realization that it should begin with me sets in, as well as the willingness of my own heart, for starters.”—James O. Murr, Jr.
The values and ideas we hold on the forefront of our minds makes the difference in how we experience life. Clear, healthy, good ideas bring meaning, enjoyment, and self-respect. As each new challenge, crisis, or fear enters our heads it requires us to respond and not just react. When we think we are not worthy, when we don’t respect ourselves, when we are fearful it opens doors to bad eating, bad relationships, bad spending, and much more. Acting from calm, spending time wisely, and protecting what matters in your life is key.
Researcher and author Shawn Achor found there are ways we can train our brains in short amounts of time through gratitude. Archor promulgates a habit of gratitude challenges to force the brain to work more positively, “We're finding it's not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. We need to reverse the formula for happiness and success…I found that most companies and schools follow a formula for success, which is this: If I work harder, I'll be more successful. And if I'm more successful, then I'll be happier. That undergirds most of our parenting and managing styles, the way that we motivate our behavior…our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody's level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed.”
A better way to approach life may be a recipe consisting of a mix of things. You need a certain amount of olive oil, a certain amount of spice, and a certain amount of broccoli. When we don’t respect ourselves, when we don’t address our emotions, temptations, and foibles, we hide from our purpose. When we develop our notions of what is good and is good for us, we are truly liberated.
Join the Pointe Viven circle
sign-up for email updates.
Credits: http://www.bethlehemdundee.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2015-10-NEWSLETTER.pdf, http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work/transcript?language=en, http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/, http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/education/2015/10/29/want-happier-challenge-promises-success-21-days/74694488/, http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/train-your-brain-for-happiness/
Image courtesy of radnatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net