Several years ago I was turned on to TED Talks. The short 5 to 20-ish minute videos shared such wonderful insights on many different topics. There are so many wonderful stories, ideas, nuggets of information, strategy, and inspiration. If I wasn’t careful I could spend a few hours jumping from talk to talk as my mind continued to seek out new ideas and information.
Many of the talk come down to one or two truly defining lines. Those were the pieces of gold that helped me mentally catalogue the talk for future reference and examination. One in particular has stuck with me more than almost any other through the years.
Dan Conley has an excellent talk focused on measuring what makes life worthwhile. You can check it out at https://www.ted.com/talks/chip_conley_measuring_what_makes_life_worthwhile. In this conversation he brings up a very profound idea from a book written by Rabbi Hyman Schachtel. The basic idea is that happiness isn’t about having what you want, happiness is wanting what you have. Conley further distilled it into the following equation:
Our happiness is equal to how much we want what we have DIVIDED by having what we want. The more we want what we have the more happiness we have.
What is this concept in a single word? Gratitude.
Since I first viewed this video so much has happened in my life. Throughout so many moments this concept has come back to the top of my mind. Sometimes it is to remind me to be thankful for what I have instead of wanting more. Other times it’s to remind me that I have to find a way to want what I have – even if it is something I don’t want. In those moment more than any other it is even more important to to find a way to be grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow from the experience. This one little phrase has had such a profoundly positive impact on my life.
To have stumbled upon it again this afternoon was incredibly well timed. I’ll be going to bed with a smile on my face as many thoughts of gratitude for so many blessings in life go through my head.