Lockdown seems to have gone on forever. We’ve worried about catching Covid or possibly we’ve already caught it. We’ve had children at home when schools closed. And we’ve found our leaders aren’t always following the rules that we have. It’s no wonder that the BBC is telling us that depression rose over Christmas (Depression rise at Christmas linked to stress over Covid).
The question is; what can we do to make ourselves feel happier? Well, University of Chicago professor Hillel Einhorn, has come up with a quick technique that everyone can use to make themselves feel happier. Let’s see how it works.
Firstly, you have to think of all the things that there are in the world – perhaps starting with your own life and spreading out to poverty and disease in some countries, extraordinary rendition, cancer, etc. And include everything in between. It’s going to be a massive list. Let’s just put that to one side for a moment.
Secondly, think of all the things that you’d want in your life if you were starting out again and that you already have. This might be a nice house, a garden, a loving family, good friends, a new car, a puppy, whatever. These are usually the things around us most of time that we all to often take for granted. You’ve now created a list of things you feel grateful for, and they give you pleasure.
Next, think of the things you have that you don’t want. This list might include things like extra weight, financial difficulties, a job you don’t like, perhaps some disease, etc. These are the things that cause you pain or make you miserable.
The next category are things that you don’t have but you want to have them. This list would include things like a big lottery win, a new car, better health, etc. These are the things you desire, and you may be motivated to get them, or you may just dream of one day possessing them.
Professor Einhorn thought was that people spend most of their time time thinking about these last three categories and that’s what they use to define their own happiness.
The final category is the things that you don’t have and you don’t want. This is by far the biggest category. This contains all those horrible things that we thought of in our first list, and, probably, a whole lot more. These are things that it’s often difficult to think about.
Professor Einhorn’s thinking is that once you include this last category, you realize that you are much happier than you thought. Once you’re not sad because of all the things you don’t have, and can put in perspective all the good things that you do have, you can start counting your blessings, and you will feel happier.
Einhorn drew a 2 x 2 table to illustrate a person’s ‘wants’ and ‘haves’. Clearly, the largest part is the don’t want and don’t have section.
So, putting your happiness in perspective is a quick way of making you feel happier.