Monday, April 12, 2010

Week 15

*For explanation of The Happiness Experiment" go HERE .*

Last week's secrets:
Don't confuse stuff with success.
Every relationship is different.

Secret #29
Don't think "what if."

"Spending your time imagining what would have been if you could have changed some little thing, some little decision in your life, is counterproductive and leaves you unhappy. Think about how you can improve for the future, but don't waste your present thinking about how you could have changed the past."

Thinking about all the things that you have done in your life to get you where you are isn't going to change the fact that you did them. The only thing that you can do now is think about where you are and how you are going to get where you want to be. 

"Research on athletes who came close but lost in Olympic finals finds that those who spend the least time on counterfactual thought-thinking about how things might have ended differently-are the most satisfied with their experience."

Secret #30

"Every community has countless opportunities for giving of yourself. Be a reading tutor. Give your time to help the local charity thrift store. Anything you can do will not only help the world, it will also help you. Volunteers feel good about themselves. They have a sense of purpose, feel appreciated, and are less likely to be bored in their lives. Volunteers experience rewards that cannot be attained in any other way. Even if you don't have a lot of time or skills, find an hour a month and give yourself to a good cause."

I'll be the first to admit that volunteering doesn't always come easily. Even though it always makes you feel good. One memorable volunteering experience was one Christmas before any of my siblings were married. We decided to go down and help deliver the Meals on Wheels Christmas dinners. We were to only family there with some of the senior volunteers. While the food was being cooked we played card games like War and just had a good time. Then we helped get the meals together and drove around and delivered these meals to families that otherwise would not have had a Christmas dinner. What an amazing feeling!  Volunteering does take some effort, but once you do it, it won't seem like any effort was required at all. 

"An analysis of volumes of previous research on the subject shows a strong consensus that volunteering contributes to happiness by decreasing boredom and creating an increased sense of purpose in life. Volunteers, on average, are twice as likely to feel happy with themselves as non-volunteers."

Don't think "what if".

These are fairly small secrets but they can both bring pretty big changes. I've always been pretty good about not thinking "what if", but volunteering is an area I could use some improvement.