• Ulrike Nichols

Ripples of happiness

This morning I had a very positive email from a colleague and client of mine. She loved the work I had done for her. In the translation world this does not happen very often. Translators are like viola players, they are expected to play in tune - and you only hear them when they are not. Hence, praise is a rare event. Then even the sun came out! All of this put me in such a wonderful mood that I had not experienced through the entire month of January.

Why was that I wonder?


Looking around, I found a TED talk by Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, who convincingly argues that if we regard happiness to be linked to success "our brain will never get there". In other words if we need to feel success to be happy, we will set the stakes higher and keep redefining what success is. In this particular talk he lists a number of things we can do, to gain a positive attitude that will help us get away from the success idea as a precondition for happiness. This might be familiar stuff by now among people who have studied the subject but I thought it is quite a helpful reminder.

  • Write down 3 new positive things every day for 21 days in a row

  • Write daily about 1 positive thing you have experienced in the past 24h in more detail in a journal

  • Meditate

  • Exercise

  • Share your happiness by sending a message of praise or gratitude to somebody else


Interestingly, I had already sent a grateful message to another colleague, passing on the positive thoughts. The reply was equally joyful.

Independent of that, we have been sharing two positive events at the dinner table for years. Each family member has to tell two things that made them happy on that day and sometimes this task is the hardest for us adults. While it does not help with the weather (rain can still get me down), it is a powerful force to find the positive aspects in the (personal) news of the day and hear stories that go beyond the "How was school?" I am intrigued by Achor's other suggestions though as they do not seem to be so hard to follow and they definitely have provided me with food for thought at the beginning of this week.



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