As Thanksgiving approaches I thought it would be a good time to share something that I believe is a key to the secret to happiness. It’s appropriate at this time because it involves giving thanks and praise. The secret to happiness can be summed up in the following proverb, “Happy is the man who wants what he has.” I encourage you for just a moment to ponder these nine simple words:
Happy is the man who wants what he has.
Why do I believe this is a key to the secret to happiness? First, in life there are unlimited wants and desires but there’s no way they will all be fulfilled. If you allow your focus to dwell on what you don’t have or didn’t achieve that’s a sure recipe for discontentment.
Can you really choose your focus and impact your attitude? Psychologist Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor who spent three years in Nazi concentraion camps, believed you could and wrote in his classic book Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken away from a man or woman but one thing: the freedom to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
How does this tie into influence? As I’ve dwelt on that short phrase I’ve learned to make the choice to focus on what I have, not what I don’t have. I try to focus on the good and not the bad. I’m far from perfect when it comes to this but the more I practice as time goes by the better I get.
As for influence I believe focusing on “Happy is the man who wants what he has” ties into the principle of liking. This is a simple principle of influence we’re all familiar with; people generally like those who like them. When I teach about this principle something I share that causes people to pause and think is this; when you try to get someone to like you by tapping into similarities or offering up praise you begin to convince yourself that the other person is likable. In other words, the very same things that will probably cause them to like you will also cause you to like them. It’s a double whammy for your effort!
So how does this play out for me and how can it help you? If you follow me on Facebook you know I post lots of comments about my wife, Jane, and our daughter, Abigail. Most are meant to be funny and sometimes people who don’t know me think I’m living on the edge. I suspect they think I spend many nights sleeping on the couch as punishment for my humorous posts. But, I can honestly say they only nights spent on the couch were the ones where I fell asleep watching television.
What I also try to do with those Facebook posts is praise the ones I love. I’ve had many people comment on how much they can see I love both Jane and Abigail. Whether I post a nice comment, tell someone in person, or make sure to verbalize something positive to Jane or Abigail, liking begins to work on me. If I’m constantly telling people how wonderful, smart, funny, beautiful, etc., they are, don’t you think that makes me appreciate them even more? You bet it does!
Now let’s be honest, using an example of our significant other. There will always be someone who is better looking, funnier, or more intelligent. You can fill in the trait and there’s someone who is “more” than your significant other. However, we can still make the choice to focus on them and all that they are. I tell people if God had come to me and said I could make the perfect mate I would not have gotten someone as wonderful as Jane because I would not have been creative enough nor had enough faith in God. When I think of all I have with her I would not have believed that someone would really embody all that she does. The more I choose to focus on that, the more I appreciate and love her. Is she perfect? Nope, but then neither am I.
So I have a challenge for you as we approach Thanksgiving. Start making the choice today to focus on what you have. That could be your spouse, family, home, friends, job or anything else. Make the choice to focus on the positive and appreciate those people and things. I really believe if you do so, liking will work on you causing you to find more peace, contentment and happiness.
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.