Hope you have all enjoyed a wonderful four days. Today - I’ll pass on a delightful recipe for happiness.
Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Catholic Benedictine monk, TED celebrity and founder of the Gratefulness Network – has studied happiness and its cousin, gratitude, for years. His thesis: while many assume that happiness opens the door for gratitude, Rast concludes that a grateful approach to life is the foundation – happiness is a pleasant byproduct.
Rast clarifies that we cannot and should not be grateful for everything - violence, war, loss, unfaithfulness… However, even when we are presented with something terrible, we can choose to be grateful for the opportunity in what we do next. That opportunity is the gift – which Rast calls the “master key” to happiness.
“It can be an opportunity to stand up for your values. To help others, to do something kind, to build something… Those who avail themselves of those opportunities are the ones we admire, the ones we feel have made something meaningful in their lives.”
So – how can we find a METHOD to cultivate this response? Rast goes on to dissect the tiny inflection points that can make the difference between something happening to us vs. opportunities we create. He boils it down to three steps: STOP. LOOK. And GO.
What to do? Follow the good man’s advice:
- Build in small moments of reflection to pause.
- Take a moment to watch Stiendle Rast’s video “A Good Day”
- Brad Feld – a favorite VC and “life-hacker” offers a number of hard-earned lessons at regular intervals. He and his wife have built in daily Four Minutes in the Morning (it’s not what you think!!), monthly Life Dinners and a quarterly un-plug. Ric and I have taken these up and I’ve shared with many start-up friends who have used them with great results.
- Develop a meditation practice. Hitendra Wadhwa, founder of the Institute for Personal Leadership at Columbia University, a math genius, McKinsey alum, and counsel to business professionals globally, is adamant about the power of meditation to re-wire the brain. Wadhwa offers that meditation is one powerful technique to monitor thoughts and feelings so they can be consciously deployed. Along with solitude, it helps create self-awareness – core to Wadhwa’s leadership teachings. High performance athletes have engaged in visualization and focusing the mind and body for hundreds of years – business leaders can benefit from similar intentional practice.
- Frame, or Re-frame what you are seeing, in terms of the opportunity it presents – for learning, mastery, and improvement.
- Dan Baker is adamant that happiness comes from being proactive. A note – this is different than control. Rather, it is taking the reigns during what Baker refers to as the “critical quarter-second” to reframe situations to make sure that your interpretation puts you in the driver’s seat, rather than ceding direction of the emotional train over to a sense of victimization, entitlement, or blaming someone else.
- Daniel Pink, author of DRiVE - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us has documented compelling stories about workplace performance and incentives. When people frame challenge as an opportunity to gain mastery over a particular skill or subject - they remain engaged and achieve better results. Try it.
- Do something about it!
- Choose your response – recognize always that we DO have choice.
- Practice makes perfect. Cultivating an appreciative outlook for life will take time. The standard rule of thumb for expertise is 10,000 hours...maybe you'll be faster..