Something we all seem to have in common is that we want to be happy and we want to live our lives with more joy, ease and contentment. A simple way to achieve this is through the power of Gratitude. Research proves the beneficial power of gratefulness and how this increases happiness. Studies show how deliberately cultivating gratitude we can increase our happiness, our physical and mental health along with general well-being. In addition to this, gratitude, and especially the expression of it to others, is associated with increased energy, optimism and empathy. We may all know people who seem to have the ingredients in life that could be deemed necessary in achieving happiness and yet they are not happy. On the other hand there are others who have experienced grave misfortune in their lives and can be deeply happy. We know that there is a positive connection between happiness and being grateful but it is not happiness that makes us grateful, rather, it is gratefulness that makes us happy.
Gratitude is about appreciating what you have rather than always striving to want something else or for things to be a different way. It is one of the best antidotes for feelings of depression and stress. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. People use the phrase “I feel grateful” however it is not enough to say it, it is important to take the time to feel it and embrace it in the moment. When gratefulness is experienced happiness will also be experienced as they are interlinked.
To be truly grateful it is not just about experiencing gratefulness now and again, it is about living gratefully. To live gratefully we need to see each moment as a gift. Something that we will never have again as once this present moment has passed there will be no moment other moment like it. Each new moment can bring a new opportunity or possibility. This can be tested in times when we are busy, stressed, faced with a personal challenge or family crisis. This does not mean we need to be grateful for the challenges that we face however we can be grateful for the opportunities these challenges can give to us to learn about ourselves, to assert ourselves and to identify the resilience and strengths that we have when we face challenges.
But how can we cultivate the art of being grateful in each moment? To be grateful in each moment we need to Stop, Take a breath, Observe and then Proceed. If we do not take time to stop and pause for a moment, how are we going to notice what is happening right in front of us? Although it seems an obvious and simple thing to do, in our modern society many people are struggling to even take a moment to stop never mind to open their eyes, their ears and their hearts to the opportunities that are right in front of them. When we stop and take notice of the good people in our lives, the beauty of nature, the small things that we have, we become drawn to the things that make us ultimately happy. When we are grateful we are more satisfied because we know we have enough.
A great way to practice gratitude and the act of being grateful is by daily writing down something that you are grateful for and reflect on why you feel grateful for it. It can be someone in your life, a setback you have overcome or the little things that make you happy such as a pet, a blue sky or a nice cup of tea. This is an opportunity to shift your thoughts and focus to things that are going well in your life rather than to the things that more than often make you unhappy. You may like to keep a Gratitude Journal, recording daily what you are grateful for and how it feels in you to express gratefulness. You will have this journal to call upon and reflect on as a reminder and as a way to boost your dose of Gratefulness and Happiness.
“It is not happy people who are grateful…it is grateful people who are happy”
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