If everyone could choose to either be happy or be sad, I’m sure there would be a clear favourite from the two options. It’s obviously not as simple, and involves so many things that make it complexly different for each person. I’d like to think that most people know what gratitude is, and the impact that it has every single day. I’m sure everyone could easily explain what it is, wrapped neatly in well-thought out answers, in different amounts of depth and in different ways. After all of this considered, I just wonder why it isn’t talked about more, or why we don’t see more of it in every day life.
I’m sure anyone who took the time out to explain what being grateful meant could do a great job at it, and could logically infer that having more of this is better for happiness. And if they can’t, they should.
The greatest motivator that had biggest hand in restructuring the way I saw the equation of productivity and happiness was best explained by Shawn Achor, the author of the Happiness Advantage (also the single most influential book I’ve ever read). I’ve written about this topic in a dialogue sort of way, and if you haven’t checked it out already and are interested, you can click here.
Basically, the author (Achor), explains that there’s a bit of a misconception around productivity, success, and happiness. Most people see it like this:
People work tirelessly to become successful, with the ultimate goal of being the happiest they can be. Which is what everyone is ultimately trying to do right? At the end of the day, we all have stuff that make us happy, and it’s the pursuit of this that keeps us going (shoutout to Will Smith).
However, while it’s great and all to have this end goal in mind, the biggest message from Achor’s philosophy is that it’s backwards. I like to think of an analogy of waking up in the morning, since it’s something I used to be terrible at and am now somewhat manageable at. When I’m happy or excited, for whatever reason at all, it’s fairly easy to spring out of bed and get going with whatever’s got me fired up and ready to go.
When I’m not-so-happy is the time where this gets way to difficult. I linger, procrastinate, debate what I’m going to do, or just waste some time away on my phone. I’m sure someone can relate to that.
This is the same for productivity and success, which is better illustrated like this:
If I can get to that place of happiness and excitement beforehand, I’m way more inclined to get stuff done and my overall productivity sky-rockets. It isn’t much of a surprise that people get more stuff done when they’re feeling good, yet it still isn’t enough of a commonplace at work, school, whatever. Google is all over this idea and has been for years, evidenced by the puppies in the office, nap pods, frequent breaks, and anything that will boost the morale and mood of their employees. They know that happy workers means more results.
Now obviously, moods aren’t able to be controlled on demand like Pay-Per-View (anyone still use that?). If everyone could click to be stoked and happy, like already stated, they would. This is where gratitude comes in, and acknowledging things around you is the vehicle to get there. By making a point to appreciate what’s already here, the habit of satisfaction in the present moment is found. I was laying in bed last night and thought of a situation wherein I was genuinely concerned for my safety, and from that small flashback I was overcome with some appreciation for being safe and comfortable where I was- something usually super easy to overlook and something I’ve probably overlooked hundreds of times. Thankfully, it’s something I usually don’t ever have to think about- but it doesn’t mean it’s not something I can’t appreciate. I can think of dozens of things that I overlook on a daily basis that I would miss should I not have it, and this is the central theme around gratitude. Why wait until something’s gone before truly appreciating it? Reordering these appreciations really makes me feel luckier and can usually always improve my mood.
Gratitude is everywhere, and if someone doesn’t think they have anything to be grateful for, they might be doing it wrong. Some days without a doubt will always suck more than others and nothing can change that, but appreciating something when you have it feels a hell of a lot nicer than appreciating it while it’s gone. Practicing this daily has become routine, and like any skill the improvements result in it becoming easier and more natural, creating a more effortless pathway to gratitude.