Staying Calm Through a Storm

I’ve been reading the book ‘Happy for No Reason’ by Marci Shimoff and came across a really interesting topic that I really wanted to write a blog about, and that is the impact of believing that things happen for a reason on one’s happiness.

In her book (which is great and I highly recommend checking out), Marci completes interviews and questionnaires with people who she refers to as the ‘happy 100’, because they have significantly higher happiness and life satisfaction scores than the majority of the population. Through this research she wanted to learn more about people who are happy basically all the time regardless of circumstance, so that she could find out what their secrets are.

It turns out that one of the traits that separates people who have high happiness ratings from those who do not is the belief and faith that things happen for a reason and that the universe is supporting their highest interest. People who live with this mentality are generally happier because they do not hold grudges when things do not go the way they had hoped. They take what they are given and make the most of it with a focus on growing and learning, rather than staying in a place of frustration or blaming.

I know that it helps me out a lot in my own  life when I decide to put trust in this. It helps me to forgive when things do not go the way I would like them to and allows me to stay in a place of love and positive.

Having an attitude like this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because when we focus on positive, and growth, we attract more positive towards ourselves. We feel better about ourselves because we have taken control and created better outcomes for ourselves, which creates a feeling that we can do more of the same in the future and makes us feel empowered.

Research has also shown that we are not as good at predicting our own levels of happiness in response to certain events as we think. Have you ever held on to a vision or ideal for something that will make you happy in life, only to realize it was not as fulfilling as you anticipated once you had it? I know I certainly have.  Dan Gilbert has coined the term for this as ‘impact bias’.

Gilbert’s work demonstrates that we tend to run simulations in our head that try to foresee how happy we will be in certain situations. For example: when we get married, become the boss at work, or get the house we’ve always dreamed of. The problem with these simulations is research is showing that they are often not very accurate. When we place expectations on something external to provide happiness it tends to not live up to what we hoped and thought, and makes us easily frustrated when we don’t get it

Not to mention, If we think something external can provide us with happiness then of coarse we are going to cling to it, and clinginess is pretty much always unattractive.

Through being more fully present in the moment and letting go of worries and expectations; we can find much more happiness in things or people around us that we sometimes take for granted because they are always there. This is something I am currently striving for myself, and I don’t know about you but I think there are some things to learn from this wise dog below!

A - dog sliding

When we put some faith in things happening for a reason, not only does it make us happier, more accepting, more forgiving, and more active in our own personal growth; but we are also simply not as good at knowing what’s best for us as we often like to think we are. The best bet for happiness appears to be enjoying the journey rather than placing it all on the destination.

We might not always end up where we thought or hoped, but when we can avoid getting knocked down by the things that change our path, we might end up somewhere even better with a lot more happiness along the way. When we focus on positive; that is when we tend to find it.

Tips for when things don’t go the way you had hoped:

Let go of blame for others, it only hurts you to hold on to frustration. If you’re able to help them improve so that it doesn’t repeat itself, go for it. Leaders inspire others to be their best through encouragement and empowerment

Ask yourself:
1. What can I learn from this?
2. How can I improve myself so that future results will be better?
3. What are some of the positives that can come of this?

– Kevin

References:

1. Gilbert, D., Mayers, J.,  Wilson, T. (2003). How Happy Was I Anyway? A Retrospective Impact Bias. Social Cognition, 21(6), 421-427

http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~dtg/wilson%20et%20al%20%28HOW%20HAPPY%20WAS%20I%29.pdf

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