One of the leading ways to improve happiness is to improve gratitude.
When you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense. We all know a person who is absolutely thankful for all that they have, whether it’s just a leaky roof over their head or whether they’re a millionaire. On the other hand, we also know those people who grumble and complain during times of poverty and those who grumble and complain when they seem to have everything. It’s not about what you have, it’s about being thankful. Those people who are able to find blessings in their lives and be thankful for them are the happiest people you’ll meet.
This seems to be some form of common sense, but science backs up the idea as well, as this article from Harvard Medical School explains.
So how can you tap into this and become a more grateful (and therefore happier) person? Here are a few places to start:
- Write down three things you’re thankful for each day. I like to do this during morning devotional time so that I can also be sure to thank God for these blessings in prayer, but you can write them however and whenever you like. Looking over some of mine from the past, I see a wide variety of things: sunshine, my snuggie, specific friends and family members, cherry pomegranate Crystal Light (apparently it was really hitting the spot that day!), indoor toilets, my husband choosing to live his life with me, gifts, coffee shops, clean water, and the list goes on. Being thankful for both the big things and the small things allows you to change your perspective from always wanting to feeling immensely blessed, even on bad days.
- When something terrible happens, force gratefulness. I think of one time in my life in particular. I had an angry individual call me names, question my character, and try to intimidate me. I was very shaken up about this on my drive home, so I (through my tears) just started forcing myself to think of 10 positive things that came out of that experience. I came up with things such as, “I felt cared about by my supervisor who took my side,” and “If something like that happened again, I would be stronger and more prepared.” Surprisingly, this actually helped! I was definitely not feeling grateful at the time, but grasping for any ounce of a thing to be thankful for helped me to reframe the situation in my mind and deal with it in a more healthy way.
- Serve others. It’s easy to skip gratefulness when you’re hung up on your own problems. Reaching out to someone less fortunate helps you to see just how many things you actually have to be thankful for. Travel to a hurting nation to help care for the people, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or donate to a cause you care about. Taking the focus of your life off yourself and onto others immediately instills a spirit of gratefulness.
It takes some practice, but working towards more and more gratitude in your life will lead to more health and happiness. What are you grateful for? Share in the comments below!
Don’t miss out on new TheThrivingSelf content!