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Simple Pleasures and Gratitude

11 March 2014

Allison watched Rachel teach Happiness Matters at Charlottesville SHRM this afternoon and appreciated the reminder that often happiness is about the little things that make a big difference.

Tags: allison read, allison watched, gratitude, happiness, optimism

I’ve seen Rachel teach her Happiness Matters course many times. Lots of people are talking about happiness these days, but three things about Rachel’s approach seem wonderfully unique to me.

First, the course is grounded in Rachel’s commitment to keeping up with the latest research. When people ask me to describe it I say, “Imagine if you could ask someone to read just about everything related to happiness, positive psychology, optimism, balance, mindfulness, and neuroplasticity. Then imagine that the person would pick out the most interesting research and explain it to you in a way that would convince your brain and everyone in your organization that happiness matters not just for individual satisfaction, but also for overall organizational performance.” People are often understandably skeptical about why this whole happiness thing is important for individuals and organizations which is why it’s so helpful to have Rachel distill all the research and the myriad books on the topic.

Second, Rachel doesn’t just talk about why happiness matters. She takes her knowledge of the field and suggests that we need to figure out how to have four things in our lives if we want be happier (even and especially when times are tough). She’ll tell you that some experts recommend three of these and others recommend a few more, but that these are the four she thinks have the best chance of helping you and others to get happy.

  • pleasure
  • flow | engagement
  • meaning
  • connection

Finally, Rachel shares her own experience figuring out how to make this happiness stuff work in real life, with all its ups and downs and complications. I’m always left with a renewed commitment and boost of courage to get busy doing what I need to do to be happy no matter what’s going on in my life.

Now you may be thinking, “But Allison, what can I do RIGHT NOW to get a little happier?” I could go on and on about the things Rachel recommended today, but for now, I’ll share two thoughts. First, make sure you know the simple pleasures in your life that you can enjoy with limited time, planning and less than $5.00. This morning, Rachel posted on Facebook that she’d be teaching her happiness class and asked her friends to, “Quick - list one or two things that make you happy. (Or joyful. Or elated. Or even serene.)” Check out the comments to see all the different ways people answered that question and then figure out what your answer would be.

Second, remember that gratitude is one of the great pathways to happiness. You can practice that every day by thinking of three things that make you grateful. Or you can thank other people for the things they do that you appreciate. You might even write a 300-word letter to someone expressing your gratitude and then go to their house or office and read the letter to them.

I think I’ll walk down the hall and read this blog post to Rachel.


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