The Box of Happiness

The box of happiness

How it all began

There is a box made by Leo Bormans called “Een schatkist van geluk” – “The world box of happiness”. It came across my path when I was searching for a birthday present for a very dear friend of mine. As soon as I saw it I knew this was the present I wanted to get. When I walked out of the store, with the present in my back it struck me. This was going to be my new project: I am going to test this box of happiness to see if it really has an impact on my life and maybe it will inspire you to try out some of the tasks to increase your happiness!

What is this box of happiness?

According to Leo Bormans, the developer of “The World Box of Happiness” the tasks on the cards of this box are based on scientific research to bring you closer to a more positive and happier life. The box contains 52 cards, which each display two tasks: an easier one and a more difficult one. The aim is to take one card every week or two weeks and fulfil the given tasks, no matter what they are. To do this experiment as best as possible I stick to one rule given by Leo Bormans: Do not read the cards before hand. So I am jumping into this experiment without having read a single card!

How to use the box of happiness

Five points are specified on how to use the box of happiness. I want to stick to these points throughout the entire experiment:

Define your level of happiness. For how much percent do you call yourself an optimist?

  • To define my level of happiness I want to do a couple of things:
    1. First, I determine the level of happiness for myself.
      • At this moment I would say I am around 60% optimistic.
    2. Second, I asked my two best friends to determine my happiness level.
      • My best girlfriend M said I am optimistic around 80% of the time.
      • My best guyfriend L said: I am an optimist around 40% of the time. He did made clear that 0% meant being neutral, so not optimistic at all. It did not mean being a pessimist.
    3. Third, I did a psychological test to determine my level of happiness.
      • Based on research I chose the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS, Diener, Emmons, Larsen & Griffin, 1985) I scored 26 points out of a possible of 35, which can be translated to a moderate life satisfaction.

Pull a card out of the box every week / two weeks and fulfil them all. Make yourself fulfil all tasks not only during the week that follows but as much as possible during the whole year.

  • Hereby I pledge to take a card every week / two weeks until I have read and fulfilled every single card. I will write down my experience in posts I publish on this website. I promise to be open to the tasks and to be honest about my new experiences.

Put the card in a spot where you see it often or carry it with you where you go.

  • I want to take the cards with me in my wallet so that I always have them with me. If you know me, feel free to ask me about it, I am happy to share.

Keep a diary in which you write weekly your tasks and how you fulfill them.

  • Well, obviously this blog is my diary in which I will write down the tasks as well as how I fulfilled them. I hope you enjoy!

After the year check which tasks inspired you the most and how you want to continue using them.

  • I will make sure to do this write a concluding posts after one year in which I look back at the year, the tasks I fulfilled and what I have learned.

What brings us closer to happiness:

The box of happiness also contains instructions that should be taken into account by everyone on their search for happiness. Since I read all of these before I stared with this experiment I want to give you a small summery by giving you the six points I found most inspiring:

(I do my best to translate everything correctly but some things are Dutch Sayings and the meaning is a little more difficult to bring across. If you know a better way to say it, please let me know:))

  • Be an optimist!

Together with a hundred professors and specialists in happiness, Leo Bormans created a book that belongs to the little box happiness called ‘The world Book of Happiness’. Again and again they came across three fundamental elements: joy, satisfaction, and, the fulfillment of a meaningful life. The general conclusion was that one important element made people all around the world happier, healthier and more successful: an optimistic view on life. The second conclusion, which is even more important: optimism can be learned.

  • Be flexible!

The only thing we can be a hundred percent sure of in life is that every changes. People who look at these changes with a positive view, have a much higher chance to be satisfied in their lives then others. Instead of seeing change as the ending of something they have learned to see it as a beginning.

  • Laugh!

The art of laughing about life and good jokes is the real fountain of a fulfilling life. Those who can appreciate spontaneous humor are happier then those who can’t. Have fun, grant yourself some time every day to enjoy, act crazy and laugh.

  • Respect others!

In Nepal people great each other daily with Namasté. They say this to everyone, more then a hundred times per day. It means so much more then the simple ‘Hello’ we say. Namasté means: “I bow for the god within you”. This sentence contains three essential aspects:

    1. I see you
    2. You have an exceptional power and talent within you (a god)
    3. I bow for that

If we use a greeting as meaningful as ‘Namasté’ sincerely to the people we meet, we show the greatest form of respect to others.

  • Choose company that inspires you!

A positive attitude towards the people around you is one of the most important indicators for a fulfilling life. The chances to be happy are twice as high if you have a positive attitude towards others. Choose your company wise. Don’t let yourself be surrounded by people who hold you back, discourage you, or distract you but choose people who are inspiring and supporting. Do not take the easy way out: they do not always need to agree with you. Constructive criticism is important and useful. Wherever you go take the positive people with you and make sure you have a positive attitude towards them as well.

  • Happiness can be found in gratitude!

Often, we forget to be really aware of the life we live and to enjoy it. More so we dream about a perfect world that does not exist and will never be. If you are looking for happiness, you will not find it in ‘joy’ but in ‘being grateful with what you got’ and that is a fundamental difference. Increase you’re gratitude with what you got, who you are and the world you are living in and you will increase your happiness.

 

So, that is the story behind this experiment. From now on, I will spend two years with the box of happiness and will report about it here. Let’s see if I make it! I hope you enjoy reading about it, please tell me what you think about my experiences! I wish you all the very best,

Anne-Sophie Sloet van Oldruitenborgh


References

Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J. & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of personality assessment, 49(1).

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