Yesterday my friend Diana showed me a TED Talk video with Shawn Achor that talks about “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance.” Achor’s research is based on positive psychology, which is basically the idea that the more positive you are — the more positively you think — the better you’ll do. You’ll be a better worker, you’ll succeed more, and you’ll be more satisfied with your life. What he says is that many people think that once they become successful they’ll be happy, but the opposite is actually true. “Happiness fuels success, not the other way around.” (Learn more about Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage.)
The video is interesting because he points out that we think our circumstances are what determine our happiness. But it’s not true because as soon as we achieve the circumstance we wanted, we immediately look for a new one we think will make us happier. So in high school we work hard to get good grades so we can get into a good college. But then we get into a good college, and instead of being happy with that, we stress about how we have to get good grades to get a good job. Then we get a good job and immediately start to look for a better job. We think marriage will make us happy, and then we get married and think kids will make us happy. And on and on it goes. “If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there,” he says.
This was fascinating to me because I’ve seen this so clearly in my own life. I don’t know if it has to do with our American culture and our constant need for success and competition, but once I reach a goal, I immediately have to have a new one. There have been so many things in life I look to for happiness, but none of them bring it. It’s because I’m looking to things and circumstances instead of finding peace and comfort in the Lord, in where He’s placed me right now.
As far as I know, Shawn Achor is not a Christian. But I think his ideas are so true and the solutions he comes up with are very godly. He recommends that to be happier, people should write down three new things they are grateful for each day. They should journal and exercise, meditate and do random acts of kindness. This, he says, helps people live in the present and appreciate what’s going on around them instead of looking toward the future for happiness.
Again, Achor doesn’t seem to be approaching this from a Christian perspective, but just think of how we could do this as believers. We can write down our blessings every day, we can pray, thanking God for His goodness and spending time in His Word. We can love our neighbors as ourselves. These are all godly concepts that I think could change my perspective of happiness from achieving what I don’t have to being grateful for what I do have.
The Lord has blessed each of us with so much. He has provided and given us so many things to be thankful for each day. He is our strength and our shield, and He keeps our minds in perfect peace when we trust in Him. And that’s something to be happy about.