Gratitude: a Key Ingredient to Happiness
Thanksgiving is coming up this week in the US, and although we don’t have a designated day or holiday for it here in Australia, it’s a good reminder to be grateful. Grateful for what we have, who we share your lives with and how blessed we are to be alive.
What is it?
Gratitude is an emotion or feeling of appreciation for what we have. It’s about bringing our focus away from the negatives and minimising the amount we complain about things we don’t like so much about our lives. It’s so easy to get stuck in that feeling of not having enough or comparing your life to someone else’s. We’re all guilty in one way or another of wanting more stuff or to check stuff off our lists. And although it’s important to have goals, the focus shouldn’t just be on the things we don’t have yet, but on the things we have now.
It’s your choice
To be grateful is a conscious choice. It’s not something you should do just because you think you should. Like when you were a kid and were told to say thank you for everything, even if you didn’t feel it. Nobody can make you feel grateful, but you. And being grateful does have it’s benefits. Studies have proven that it increases your sense of wellbeing, improves your mood, increases happiness and lowers stress. Just remember, you don’t need to wait until everything is perfect to practice gratitude, you can do it right now.
Wake up grateful
When you wake up in the morning, before you step out of bed and into the day, pause. Lay back down, close your eyes and think of one thing that you’re grateful for (all the non-morning people are going to be cringing right now, but trust me!). It could just be that you woke up or that you have a bed to sleep in. Two wins right there. Or for the hug you got from your child (human or fur-baby!). Or for the perfectly crafted coffee you had yesterday afternoon. Next, smile from ear to ear as you think or say your thing. Do it every day. As the days go on, you will find more and more things to be thankful for. Try some of these positive affirmations too, to get the good vibes flowing!
Be thankful for all of it, the good and the bad
It might come a little easier to think of the good things in your life to be thankful for, but what about the struggles? What about the ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me right now’ moments? How about being grateful for them too? Try to switch your thinking and look for the lesson it might hold for you or someone else. Or that it’s leading onto something so much better. It might be difficult, but you might just find a little bit of freedom from the usual thoughts that accompany that ‘thing’.
Take it further
After getting into the swing of reminding yourself what you’re grateful for, the next step is telling other people why you’re grateful for them. Think of something that someone has done for you that makes your life a little easier or brings a smile to your face. Tell them. Write them a little note, or tell them in person. It doesn’t have to be an essay, just enough to let them know you appreciate them. You’ll be surprised how much it will mean to them, and you will probably feel a real buzz too.
By the way, I am so grateful for you! Just to know you are reading this post makes me happy 🙂