Money doesn’t buy happiness, but thankfulness will.
A while back I was having breakfast at the Central Plaza Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. I was reading the Bangkok Post when one article in particular caught my attention. It was entitled, “Money Can’t Buy Happiness.”
The article reported the results of a massive study done in a dozen Southeast Asian countries. In essence, the study concluded that the more money people had, the less happiness they reported. And conversely, the less money people made, the more happiness they had.
Apparently, the “richer” people spent so much time worrying about money that they lost their contentment in the process. The so-called “poor” people seemed to focus more of their attention on being grateful for what they had — such things as a humble roof over their heads or a family that was close. The “poor” people had an attitude of gratitude.
Now I realize my “Tuesday Tip” is read all over the world, and for many of you readers, my opening paragraphs aren’t too much of a surprise. For my American readers, however, today’s Tip may be a tough one to swallow. Afterall, most of us have spent our lives in pursuit of money. And even if we don’t think money will buy happiness, Americans think, at the very least, money will help them look for it in a lot more places.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to believe the article in the Bangkok Post. Happiness is not so much a function of things as it is of attitude. The more thankful you are, the happier you’ll be.
So how do you get an all-encompassing attitude of gratitude? I’ve found three things that work.
First, RECOGNIZE THE FACT THAT SOMETHING GOOD IS HAPPENING IN YOUR LIFE. This very moment, in fact every single moment of your life, something good is happening in your life. All you have to do is see it.
You probably remember Helen Keller, one of the most incredible women of the 20th century. Even though she was “handicapped” by her inability to hear and see, she inspired the world with her accomplishments.
One time she was asked a question by a small boy in an elementary school. He asked her if it was terrible that she couldn’t see.
After her interpreter gave her the question, Helen gave a most remarkable response. She said how much more terrible it must be to have eyes and not be able to see.
She was able to see the good in her life. What about you?
Something good is happening in your life every moment of your life. All you have to do is look for it. You may have a new friendship in the process of forming. You may be getting some new ideas on how to sell your product in the marketplace. Or maybe a weakness in your plan is being revealed. They are all good things.
The second thing you need to do is to PHRASE THINGS POSITIVELY. As Isaac Bashevis Singer said, “If you keep saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet.” Somehow or other, talking negatively about a situation always seems to make things worse, but talking positively about a situation always seems to increase energy, motivation, productivity, results, success, and thankfulness.
Kemmons Wilson, the founder of Holiday Inns, demonstrated the ability to phrase things positively. When he was asked to speak at his former high school, Kemmons said, “I do not know why I’m here. I didn’t graduate from high school, and I never worked a full day in my life. So I’ll give you the advice I follow. Just work half days, and it doesn’t matter which 12 hours you work, the first half or the second half.”
Finally, VERBALIZE YOUR THANKS. Whether you say it out loud or think the thoughts, whether you tell someone face to face or say it privately in your prayers, whether you share it at a staff meeting or write it in your newsletter, put words to your thankfulness.
Matthew Henry lived from 1662 to 1714, and he was known for always being thankful. He always put words to his thankfulness, even the time he was robbed in the shadows of a dark street. He was bashed up against the wall and ordered to hand over all his money.
That night in his diary, Matthew wrote: “I am thankful that during all these years I have never been robbed until now. Also, even though they took my money, they did not take my life. And although they took all I had, it was not much. Finally, I am grateful that it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
It’s important to remember that the word “thank” actually comes from the word “think.” If we think it over, we all have a lot to be thankful for.
Action: You can create an attitude of gratitude that sticks with you through thick and thin. Start by making a list of 250 things you’re thankful for — that’s right, 250. Then add 5 more every day for the next month. You should be well on your way to an attitude of gratitude.