Not even winning the lottery will make you happy if you aren’t building up the four personality traits of truly happy people, according to Harvard medical professor and motivational speaker Sanjiv Chopra.
In a TED Talk, Chopra explained that hitting the jackpot won’t make much of a difference in your life, but improving certain aspects of your mindset will.
“What happened to the lottery winners?” he said. “They might have bought a huge house, a big mansion, a new car. Some of them spent it away in not good ways. They gambled away the money, and even if they didn’t, at the end of three months, it’s a nice house, right? It’s a nice car. You get used to it.”
He said that his “research and my reflections” have led him to believe that the happiest people on Earth consistently have several traits. The first trait is having a good group of friends.
“Your friends are your chosen family,” he said, adding that family members can be your best friends. “Choose your friends wisely and celebrate everything small or good with your friends.”
The second trait, he said, is the ability to forgive. He used the example of the activist Nelson Mandela, saying that after being released from 27 years in prison, Mandela said he had no resentment because, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
“If any of you harbor a grudge, my plea to you: Get rid of it,” he said.
The third trait of happy people, according to Chopra, is a willingness to serve. He quoted from the Nobel Prize winner Albert Schweitzer as saying, “The ones amongst you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”
He calls these traits the “Three ‘F’s”: friends, forgiveness, and for others. A sense of gratitude makes up the fourth and final trait, according to Chopra.
“There’s a wonderful anonymous quote: If you don’t know the language of gratitude, you will never be on speaking terms with happiness,” Chopra said. “All the research has shown that if you express gratitude on a regular basis, you’ll be happy. You’ll be more creative. You’ll be more fulfilled. You might even live 10 years longer.”