What makes us a happy life is not money, power, or prestige, but the social connections we make.

That’s according to a study by Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert.

That finding was one of many revelations as part of a free kindness and gratitude seminar on Monday night at the Graham Library (9202 224th St E). Senior librarian David Seckman ran the workshop, which included both presentations and group discussion exercises. Seckman has been in the field of kindness and gratitude for more than a decade, after he realized the profound effects on people’s lives, which made him excited about the science behind it. He’s been giving seminars for nine years, mostly at bookstores and the YMCA. Monday’s was his second at the library, after hosting one last June.

In the wide-ranging session, Seckman shared an array of facts, statistics, and findings. Among them, 40 percent of our happiness depends on the conscious choices we make every day to be happier, and if you cultivate more gratitude and kindness, you’ll lead to a happier life. He also noted the consistent finding that people who practice gratitude have increased enthusiasm, accomplished their personal goals, met other healthier people, had fewer symptoms of depression and illness, slept better, and exercised 40 minutes more on average.

Among the attendees was Carol Victoria Wright, who heads the Graham-Kapowsin Community Council. Wright said she took part because after one of their most recent GKCC elections, they were challenged to host positive events in the community. Despite putting together a positive action meeting, nothing ever came to fruition.

“Then here’s David, and what he’s doing is so good,” she said.

Wright said she liked the scientific and medical information that Seckman presented.

“I like all the examples that I can use in my summer science camps for kids,” said Wright, who hosts a camp for kids ranging from pre-K to age-14. “The one I thought was good was, ‘You already probably know this, but …’”

That phrase is a way to communicate something that could be construed negatively, and it’s now something Wright plans to incorporate into her own presentations.

“You probably already know this, but if you double dip your apple into the peanut butter, you might give somebody germs,” she said.

Katy Hogan was another attendee, after finding out about it through a friend. At first, she was skeptical.

“Honestly, at first I wasn’t sure because I thought it would be just like every other self-help workshop I’ve attended in the past,” she said. “But, I decided to see if maybe this workshop would be at least a little bit different.”

Did she find it worth her time?

“It was very informative, not like any other self-help event I’ve been to and definitely an eye opener,” she said. “I never realized just how it can be positively influential to others. Also, the fact that expressing positively and showing gratitude literally releases ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain was particularly fascinating.”

She found the “gratitude meditation,” to be the most valuable thing the learned.

"It created positive changes in my mindset almost instantly,” she said.

Hogan also praised the way the seminar affected her thought process.

“With all the negativity we experience in life and in the media, this is a great way to help reshape my world views,” she said. “Problems will always arise and others will always judge; but the way we cope with it is what matters and makes all the difference in the outcome.”

If you missed Monday’s workshop, mark your calendar for Oct. 3, when the next one is scheduled for the Graham Library, starting at 7 p.m. Seckman recommends it to anyone looking to improve their overall happiness and relationships.