Tonight, I explained that the positive psychologists--the people who study happiness--offer us a lot of tools that can increase our baseline happiness. Getting more stuff, it turns out, isn't one of them.
Every time we buy something new, we get a burst of pleasure, these shrinks say, but before long the burst is over and we return to baseline. Your only choice, if shopping is your happiness strategy, is to buy yet another thing.
Or you can look for another strategy.
One strategy, it turns out, it's to make regular gratitude lists.
Once a day, the happiness folks suggest, you should make a list of five things you feel grateful for. It doesn't even matter if it's the same thing again and again, night after night. The practice won't just make you feel better then and there, but will actually change your all-day baseline.
So I shared this tonight as part of our No Impact Week workshop. The idea, I said, was that since we have to give up some material pleasures during our retreat from consumerdom, we should find some other way to achieve happiness--one that doesn't require planetary resources.
How about that? Methods of achieving happiness without using resources! Maybe the well-being of the people and the well-being of the planet are not at odds after all, right?
So we did this exercise in our group and each of us shared a couple of things we were grateful for. It completely changed the energy of the group. None of us named and "things." It was all about love and the people we're close to. Amazing! And those of us who were having a hard time with No Impact Week suddenly felt better.
So I searched on Twitter for #GratitudeList and no one has started it. So I thought: I'll start it.
And I did.
If you want to know what's on my gratitude list for tonight, you'll have to go to search.twitter.com and plug in #GratitudeList. And while you're there, leave your own list. Now wait till tomorrow and repeat.
Maybe if we all learn to be grateful for what we have, we won't keep yearning for what we don't have. Then we can have a rest. And so can the planet.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.