Resilience Series Posted by Nicola Maxwell


So you think you know what makes you happy? If you are like most people, you probably don’t. We imagine for instance that winning the lottery will make us ecstatically happy. Yet in reality, winning the lottery has no such effect whatsoever. In fact, research shows that winners are only marginally happier than people who have become paraplegic – when asked a year later.

How can this be? It turns out that we – humans – are not great at predicting what will make us happy. This is because the brain plays tricks on us. The moment we get something we have longed for, we quickly adjust and raise our expectations, longing for the next thing to happen. As we are in constant pursuit of the next thing, we don’t get happier – we just desire more stuff.

Similarly, we are pretty poor at predicting what will bring us long-term unhappiness. Most of our worries, most of the things we fear, do not have nearly as devastating an impact on us as we imagine. When bad things happen we cry, whine, despair and rage. But usually just for a short while. Then we pick ourselves up and eventually we return to our previous level of happiness.

Important fact:
In three months, the effects of being fired or promoted lose their effect on your level of happiness.

So if most of the things we wish for and most of the things we fear have very little impact on how we feel in the long-term – what does affect our happiness?

The happiest people are those who don’t compare themselves to others and are better at appreciating the here and now.

Simply put, the more we notice the good things we have right here, right now, the happier we feel in the long term.

‘Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.’ Robert Brault

It’s easy really. All you need to do is find three things every day that you can notice and feel grateful for and then write them down in your edoMidas journal. If you are wondering if something so simple can really make you happier, then the answer is a resounding YES – 25% happier to be precise! Check out the research yourself in Dr Robert A Emmons’ book ‘Thanks’.

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