The 80/20 on Happiness - Part II

One of the wonderful things about writing for my newsletter is appreciating the incredible depth, talent and diversity of my readers.

In my last article, I wrote about the 80/20 on Happiness. When you wake up in the morning and also right before bed, think of 3 things you are grateful for. Do this for a week and you will feel 10% happier.

One of my readers, Eric, sent me the original empirical research that measured the effectiveness of this approach. Thank you, Eric!

Since I received a ton of questions about this topic, I thought I’d elaborate on a few things.

  1. It is better to write down your 3 "grateful things" on a piece of paper than to just think about it. I tend to favor whatever is easier, because if something is easy, it is more likely to get done.
  2. The 3 things you are grateful for need not be the same things every time. Simply state in that moment whatever you are grateful for, no matter how big or small.

Now I know that many of you might be thinking this happiness stuff is way too woo woo for someone analytical like me. I know this because I used to think that too.

Then I had a thought.

What is the purpose of your career and all the hard work you are doing?

Is the goal to NOT be happy?

Of course not.

If the end game is happiness, then doesn’t it make sense to see if there is a shorter, faster, and easier way to reach it?

I promised to reveal why the gratitude exercise works.

But I thought I’d do just one more exercise first. I encourage you to do it. It will take only 2 minutes:

Scroll to the Comments section below to post a comment on this page. In your comment, list as many things as you are grateful for that you can think of in 2-3 minutes.

The key is to write fast.

Do not over think. Write for speed.

Okay, here is the kicker... (don’t freak out).

Try to write fifty things you are grateful for in 2-3 minutes.

After you are done, describe how you felt -- before, during, and after the exercise.

Then read everyone else’s responses.

I promise you if you make the effort to do this 2-3 minute exercise (I know it’s a pain in today's click-happy world), you will surprise yourself.

Trust me and give it a shot.

In the comments below, write 50 things you are grateful for... and after 2-3 minutes, just stop. Don’t think. Write fast. Don’t write what you think you are supposed to be grateful for. Write for anything large or small that you are grateful for.



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426 comments… add one
  • Aditya Sharma Oct 6, 2014, 9:13 am

    1. Parents
    2. Sister
    3. Resources
    4. Fortune
    5. Great friends – want to name all
    6. Great job – colleagues
    7. IIT Bombay
    8. Talent – to some level
    9. varied experiences

  • Carolyn Oct 6, 2014, 9:13 am

    friends at school
    got message from my sister from UK at the morning
    woke up by my mother
    dine with my family and friends
    study with my good friends
    discuss news with my friends
    completed a task on my to-do list
    smooth traffic arrangement
    get my student ID finally after two months
    Sufficient pocket money
    Nice weather today
    Good teacher and had a meaningful class
    Had a good dream this morning, that is not possible in real life
    A lot of targets
    Every “material” things I have
    A lot of available seats at the library
    Finally revision time at the library
    Not much hurdle today
    Early dinner (means fitter and healthier?) [After 2-3minutes]

    Before – Felt difficult to spot a single thing to be grateful for
    During – Felt “Everything looks fine today”, without dissatisfaction
    After – Felt like “Wow – I had a great day”

  • Andrew Oct 6, 2014, 9:10 am

    having alive my dads
    having good health
    having a farm
    having material things (houses)
    my education
    my cars
    my work rxperience I have had
    the people i have known
    Seeing a good friend from schoold some days ago
    Getting in touch again with people from school
    My ex girlfriend relationship
    Winning an scholarship
    Admited to a UK university
    Learning from consulting
    Worked in Consulting
    My grandma
    My family abroad

  • Sam Oct 6, 2014, 9:08 am

    Mom, dad, health, school , Canada, friends, cousins, best friends, happiness, money, job, travelling opportunities, learning opportunities, Ivey, teachers, my boss, food, water, shelter, an amazing house, my next job, my salary, so much love, Emily, Shirley, Tyler, Mike, Krupa, Ann, Maddy, a secure life, clean water, grandma, grandpa, calm, peace of mind, living in a country that is stable and safe, my citizenship, my dad’s success.

  • Lf Oct 6, 2014, 9:06 am

    Sun family friends intelligence warmth safety security Lara Claire Kieran Megan Amma Barry childhood tennis maths Gemma Carslaw crew Crowey Rob Webby gym drugs confidence alcohol silliness qanda John Oliver bugle NP running life you thisiswater

  • Sri Oct 6, 2014, 9:01 am


  • Indra Oct 6, 2014, 8:51 am

    Dates with Nili.
    Happiness of parents.

  • Ana Oct 6, 2014, 8:51 am

    I’m grateful for
    1. I have good body and can walk and take things with my 2 hands, I can see the World with my eyes, I can eat by myself and taste food
    2. When I’m alone I can call my Mom and sister. They’re alive!
    3. I’m not a slave (vs poor kids all over the world)
    4. I can travel and see new places
    5. I can go to Gym and dance
    6. My friends are funny guys

  • Nick Oct 6, 2014, 8:50 am

    Health, love, work, fulfillment, friends, working out, body, mind, money, freedom, liberty, mom, opportunity, peace of mind, liberty of choice and expression, ability to decide my own destiny,

  • Mandy Oct 6, 2014, 8:48 am

    i can see
    i can read
    i can taste wonderful food
    i can enjoy amazing music
    i have a job
    i have a lovely cat
    i have a home
    my parents are still alive and well
    i have a soulmate whom i can completely lean on when needed
    i can afford to buy most things i want
    i appreciate good gestures of people around me
    i have pretty smart and amazing friends
    i have good worklife balance now
    my health has become better
    i have good critical judgment to surround myself with people and things i appreciate

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