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Take Max Lucado’s Happiness Challenge

The best-selling author and pastor shows us how to create happier moments in our life.

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My name is Max Lucado and I wrote a book called How Happiness Happens. I’m a pastor in San Antonio, Texas.

The Happiness Challenge is a simple idea. Take forty days, and commit yourself to make a 100 moments over forty days in which you are helping other people find a greater level of happiness. Greet other people genuinely. Listen to other people carefully. Praise other people abundantly. Make it your aim to increase value, add value to other people’s lives.

Something wonderful happens when you do this. Number one, you find yourself less self-focused, which is good for most of us. And number two, you see the real power that happens in genuine acts of kindness.

Forty days is about how long it takes to develop a good habit, right? And so if you take forty days and say, “Okay, over the next forty days, I’m gonna do this for a hundred people” and you keep a journal, because you’re not gonna believe all the great stories that come your way. If you keep a journal, it’s an exciting, wonderful adventure.

I did this, just to test it. It was harder than I thought. But it was more beneficial than I ever imagined. I’ve got several memories that stick out of that forty-day experiment. One of them in particular had to do with a late-night flight that was delayed from, I think, Detroit to Chicago. It was in the dead of winter, it was really cold. And when the flight crew walked through the airport, through our waiting area, all these grumpy passengers waiting to get on a plane in the dead of night, already two and a half hours late, people booed the flight crew. It was terrible. It was terrible.

So, I’m in the middle of this “make happy people” challenge, I’m thinking, “I’m surrounded by people that need to be happy.” And so, my heart especially went out to the airline attendants. They didn’t have anything to do with the plane being delayed, but people booed them. So when we get airborne, after we put everything away, and when the seatbelt sign is off, I say, “Okay, I’m gonna go see if I can encourage that airline attendant.”

I stood up and I walked over to the station where she was, and I said, “Could I just say thank you so much. I know you’ve had a long hard day, but I know you’re doing your very best, too. Thank you.” She started crying. She started crying. She just almost came undone. She said, “That’s the first kind thing “anybody said to me all day long.”

All I did was get up out of my seat and walk over and say something kind to her. But the result of that is a moment that I don’t think she forgot. And here I am talking about it a long time later. That’s the power of kindness. And you know what? I can honestly say I was a happier person when I sat back down. I gave happiness away, but it had a boomerang effect. It made me happier.

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