You might be wondering what a picture of good old Ben is doing at the bottom of this blog. Well, Franklin said lots of insightful quotes but I wanted to talk about one of my favorites. He said “the U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, merely the pursuit of it.” Then he said “it’s up to us to catch it for ourselves.” What an interesting concept, that we have to catch happiness because usually we think of happiness as something that happens to us, sort of like we are passive observers.
Instead, Franklin urges us to become active participants in our own happiness. Clearly, if we are going to catch something, we have to actively go after it, we can’t just sit back passively and wait for it to come to us.
So how do you “catch happiness.” Luckily for us we don’t have to figure this out for ourselves as a huge amount of psychological research has gone into this question over the last few decades. Before that, happiness was the subject for poets or philosophers. But, in the last few decades, it’s actually become the realm of science.
Very influential people like Daniel Kahneman widely regarded as the world’s most influential living psychologist, who won the Nobel prize and Martin Seligman the founder of Positive Psychology, spend their time thinking and researching about what makes us happy. And I will share with you one of the things I’ve learned from studying all this science because don’t we all want to be happier.
I have created my top five ways to be happier, what I call my “happiness catchers.” My top choice out of these five, is to Perform Random Acts of Kindness.
There are three parts of this happiness catcher 1) it has to be an act of kindness 2) it must be random and 3) you must do it each day.
The first, an act of kindness, I don’t have to tell you what that is.
Second, the act has to be random. Why does it have to be random? Apparently if you do the same act of kindness each day it becomes rote and you don’t get the most happiness bang for your buck. So you can’t give the same few bucks to the same homeless guy. Instead, one day you help your elderly neighbor, the next day you give change to the person in front of you at the grocery.
Finally, the act of kindness has to be every day. There is a reason we tell our kids to practice the piano every day, not intermittently, not just when they feel like it, nope every day. That’s because with practice it gets ingrained or habituated. And knowing that you need to do this every day has a side benefit. It causes you to actively seek out opportunities to be kind which automatically makes you a kinder person. Think about how different your day would be if you had the mindset of always looking to do an act of kindness. Think about what the world would be like if we all did this.
So as we head into the hectic holiday season, take a moment each day to perform a random act of kindness. You’ll make the world a better place and be happier for it.
By the way, if you want to know what my other 4 happiness catchers are, feel free to email me at email@example.com and I will send them to you.