Gratitude and Happiness
Since tomorrow’s Thanksgiving, I thought it would be a great time to talk about the benefits of gratitude. Surprisingly, there has been a lot of research lately to support the idea that the more we appreciate, the happier we are. But how often do we REALLY sit down and appreciate the things in our lives? Even at Thanksgiving… many times we will give a nice “thanks” speech before diving into food, but does that count?
Well, kind of… it’s better than nothing! But what could you do to make it actually improve your happiness? Here are a few things you could start doing tomorrow to make gratitude an integral part of your everyday life.
- Instead of a speech, go around the table and have everyone tell something they appreciate about the person next to them (or the person across from them, or everyone at the table!).
- If this is too “on the spot” for your family, try something a little easier- for each member of the family, fold an index card in half and write their name on the outside. While the food is cooking, have everyone choose a card and write a comment inside that appreciates what that person brings to the family. Share the cards at dinner by using them as place cards! (see pic below)
- At the regular dinner table, instead of going around and sharing the happenings of your day (which can often include a lot of negative stuff), go around and share something that happened that made you feel good… what was the highlight of your day? What went well? Some days you may have to really stop and think! But this is so great for kids, because it teaches them at a very young age to focus and appreciate the positive parts of their lives instead of putting so much energy into complaining about the negative aspects.
- When you go to bed at night, close your eyes and visualize all the things about your life that you love… if your family or job is stressing you out, don’t think of them! Think of your pets, how comfy your bed is, or the relaxing shower you had earlier in the day- anything that you can think of. If you had a rough day this is especially important! It will help you sleep better and wake feeling more refreshed.
- Upon waking the next morning, think of at least one thing you are thankful for. Appreciate the things you are looking forward to that day. Even if it’s just something simple like your hot cup of coffee.
- If you want to make an even bigger impact, WRITE your thanks in a Gratitude Journal. Our thoughts and feelings are magnified and gain clarity when we write them down, so if you want to see a difference in your life, write as much as you can. It may seem amazing, but your life will literally start to transform in a matter of weeks… you will start to notice more and more of what you like and less of what you don’t.
Our brains are so good at tuning in to what we put our attention on. Like when we buy a new car and then notice that EVERYONE seems to have that car- it was that way before, but now your brain is picking those cars out from the crowd. Well, imagine what it will do when you start appreciating…. All the things you love will just start popping out at you everywhere!
So don’t forget to thank something today! It will truly put a smile on your face!