57 – February 26
“Money won’t make you happy…but everybody wants to find out for themselves.”—Zig Ziglar
My friend, Korey, and I went on a cruise. We worried about gaining weight, since there was so much scrumptious, abundant food supply on board that we couldn’t believe it. There were about twelve meals per day: Pre-breakfast snack, breakfast, after breakfast snack, mid-morning snack, pre-lunch snack, lunch, after lunch snack, afternoon tea, cocktail hors d’oeuvres, dinner, mid-evening snack…by the time the midnight buffet arrived, I couldn’t get so much as another cracker in my mouth! We decided that we would counter all the food by exercising: Always using the stairs instead of the elevator, making sure to do a lot of walking, dancing in the disco, and going to aerobics class every morning.
We showed up for aerobics class the first morning bright and early. There was a good crowd at the class and the instructor, Debbie, was energetic and upbeat, so a good time was had by all. Debbie was dressed in a cute yellow Royal Caribbean T-shirt and matching visor. At the end of the hour, she gave each one of us a yellow “Ship Shape” dollar and told us that we would get one at the end of each exercise program on the ship. If we collected ten “Ship Shape” dollars, we could redeem them for a yellow T-shirt and visor just like hers. Everyone’s eyes lit up. A free prize?
You might guess that, as the week wore on, and we partied and danced ‘til the wee hours of the morning, it became increasingly difficult to get up at 7:00 A.M. to go to aerobics class. The wake up call would ring in our rooms, shattering our slothful sleep, and we would groan in chorus. I would say, “I don’t want to get up and go to aerobics this morning, do you?” Korey would say, “No…but I only have five ‘Ship Shape’ dollars. How many have you got?” “I’ve only got four—how did you get five?” “Oh, they gave me one for shuffle board yesterday.” “That’s cheating!” “No, it isn’t, it was exercise!” “Well,” I said, “I’ve got to get up and go to class so I can catch up.” And we’d both get up and drag our tired bodies to aerobics class.
There were a lot of tired bodies there! But I noticed everyone telling versions of our story: “Well, I was really tired and didn’t want to come today, but I only have six dollars and I need four more to get my T-shirt,” or “I wanted to sleep in, but I need three more dollars!” It was amazing how people were plugged into this competition for a T-shirt while on this cruise that cost $800 (they could definitely afford to buy themselves a T-shirt if they wanted one).
The lessons of the “Ship Shape” dollars are:
- Rewards and prizes are fun.
- People will work hard to get their prizes, no matter what they are.
- The actual value of the prize doesn’t matter.
- Therefore, pick prizes to reward yourself when you accomplish your goals!
“I accept rich rewards—and I deserve them!”
My friend, BJ Gallagher, writes the most delicious books, like Dancing in the Rain, and It’s Never to Late to be What You Might Have Been. She often quotes me, which of course thrills me no end. So it’s time for me to return the favor. Here’s some great information on happiness from her book, The Road to Happiness.
Happiness is Contagious
Not too long ago, researchers from the Harvard Medical School and the University of California at San Diego made an important discovery—happiness is contagious. Your happiness is influenced not only by the people you know, but also by the people they know. In other words, happiness spreads through social relationships—groups, cliques, teams, clubs, clans, communities, gangs, neighborhoods and families.
Sadness is contagious, too, but it seems to spread much less efficiently, according to one of the coauthors of the study, Dr. James Fowler, of U.C. San Diego.
Fowler explains how your happiness is affected by people you don’t even know: “We have known for a long time that there is a direct relationship between one person’s happiness and anothers. But this study shows that indirect relationships also affect happiness. We found a statistical relationship not just between your happiness and your friends’ happiness, but between your happiness and your friends’ friends’ friends’ happiness.”
Fowler and his colleague, Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, discovered that there are three degrees of separation when it comes to happiness:
15% – If your friend, family member, or other direct social contact is happy, your probability of happiness increases by 15%.
10% – If the spouse of your friend, or the boss of your spouse, or some other second-degree social contact is happy, your probability of happiness increases by 10%.
6% – And if the friend of a friend of your best friend, or some other third-degree social contact is happy, your probability of happiness increases by 6%.
Having more friends will also increase your chance of happiness, but not as much as having happy friends. With regard to happiness, quality seems to be more important than quantity.
Want more happiness in your life? Hang around happy people.
–Excerpt from The Road to Happiness: Simple Secrets to a Happy Life
By Mac Anderson and BJ Gallagher