Spring has finally arrived here in Sweden and people are all of sudden smiling more, being friendlier, more sociable and more fun to be around. And though I do find this time of year to be wonderfu,l it is fascinating to notice how most people habitually attributes their change of mood to the change in the weather. How about you? Does the weather change the way you feel about ”things”?
Hmmm… this week right before Easter I take a deeper look into what really changes the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us. Because when it comes to our life experience it really makes a difference what comes first – the chicken or the egg…
Gör ditt liv till ett Mästerverk,
Quote of the month
" You give your best not because you need to impress people, but because it's the best way to enjoy your work. "
- Andrew Mathews
How much of your sense of satisfaction in life would you say comes from outer circumstances? Might not be the easiest of questions to answer straight off the bat like that, but I would suggest that it is well worth pondering. For example, do you think that the weather affects the way you feel? How about the type of job that you have or how much money you are making? Is how you feel determined by the attitude of you family and friends?
As you can imagine we could keep going with this emotional inventory for quite some time, but when it comes right down to it I think that most people would say that what happens around them in some way determines how happy they can be. No great surprise there, since we all start out in life with people helping us by taking care of circumstances for us. Hungry? Cold? Hurt? Someone came and fixed it and when our circumstances improved it felt better.
So, no wonder that we all grow up with this view of the world and most of us take that idea with us to the grave. And, in all honesty, if push comes to show in certain situations I can still have a hard time seeing how it wouldn’t make a difference to my happiness. With this in mind it’s no wonder that a recently published scientific study stirred my curiousity. Because, in it professor David Gilbert and Dr. Matthew Killingsworth at Harvard has tried to capture the elusive nature of happiness.
By way of using an iPhone app they have followed thousands of people through their daily lives, documenting how they feel and how often their thoughts drift from what they are currently doing. It turns out that on average people think about ”other stuff” 47% of the time. According to the research we are the best at keeping our thoughts on what we are doing while having sex, as we then let our mind wander ”only” 30% of the time. Physical exercise we also handle a little better than the average, while daily chores like cleaning, brushing our teeth, standing in line had our thoughts wandering 70% of the time.
What to make of all this? Well, for starters it means that if you look out over any busy sidewalk anywhere in the world half of the people aren’t mentally there. Might not seem like the greatest insight since we are only transporting our body from one place to next. No problem, right? Well, the study showed that how the people actually felt while doing whatever they were doing was intimately connected to how much their thoughts wandered from the task at hand. The less they thought about what was going on in the moment, the less happy they reported themselves to be. And here’s the kicker: That held true no matter where their thoughts wandered off to!
Obviously, people who were thinking ”positively” where slightly happier than when they were thinking ”negatively”, but they were still less happy than when they got behind what they were doing heart and soul. In other words, the fact that their thoughts wandered off was an absolutely vital indicator of happiness, while where their thoughts wandered off to and what they were doing was of hardly any importance at all.
Wow, is that as big of an insight for you as it is for me? Silly question of course since it’s impossible to answer. But, think about it for a moment. If you ask someone to imagine what it would mean for them to be economically independent almost everybody starts talking about what they would do differently – buy a house with sea view, travel the world, quit their job, help others less fortunate etc. – but you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody talking about how they would think about it. Despite the fact that what this research clearly shows is that as far as happiness is concerned it’s much more important where your mind is than where your body is. That to be unhappy anywhere you have to let your mind wander off to something else than what’s actually going on in the moment.
Hence, my invitation to you this week is to follow Nike’s slogan and ”Just do it!”. To put your whole heart and soul behind what you are doing as often as you can. You will find that even the most mundane of activities can turn into something fun. So, if you’re going to do the dishes be there with every luscious swipe of the brush, watch with fascination how the water dances across the plates and how it swirls down the drain. Become childishly curious of the moment and you will discover that we all can be happy whenever and wherever as long as we don’t let our thoughts get in our way of appreciating the unlimited, magical preciousness of each moment.
This is one of those books that you read and only later realized that something has shifted in your relationships. That of all of a sudden a lot of stuff that before seemed to bother you has become non-issues. That’s the power of this message. So, if you haven’t got it – buy it. If you do have have it – read it. Have read it – read it again. Both you and the people around you will be gratefult that you did.
You can find more books under Suggested Reading
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As an integral part of living my vision "to inspire, educate and make a difference in enough peoples private and professional lives to make a positive difference in the world", I write and distribute a free monthly coaching letter. In these I share various ideas, thoughts and insights that I think can be of value for all of you who are interested in getting the absolute best out of life.Read more