Would you believe me if I told you being grateful could make you happier?
I believe that an attitude of gratitude has an impact on how I perceive the world and my happiness. I can always be grateful for the obvious things: food, water, shelter, my health, supportive family and friends, and a great career with wonderful clients. And when I get good at that, I get to branch out and start thinking more broadly – and the little things become big in the best way possible: the sunny blue sky on a cool day, friends who make me laugh so hard I almost cry, the kids cleaning out the dishwasher before I ask them to, a good workout, the memories of wonderful places I’ve traveled, the smell of a steamy chai latte just before I take the first sip, the feeling I get when I’ve been really productive, and even just the dogs snoring next to me on a gray, blustery day.
Several studies help explain why these things can make me feel happier. Here are a few that I’ve read that directly link expressing gratitude to an increase in happiness:
• One study found marked improvements in the happiness, life-satisfaction, and depression of people who wrote and sent letters of gratitude.
• Another found that happiness increased when people wrote about their gratitude for a specific person, and it went even higher when they called the person to tell them. Here’s a fun video describing it.
• And another researcher has linked gratitude expression not only to happiness, but also to increases in the ability to meet our goals, maintain our health, and our willingness to help other people.
These are some pretty amazing results for simply writing letters of thanks, making an appreciative phone call, and simply focusing on the good stuff!
Over the last several years I’ve realized that, as the research shows, the more I live in the mindset of gratitude, the more I can see the good things, and the happier I become. For awhile now, I have been taking a few minutes each morning to start my day by writing down what I’m grateful for. It takes about 30 seconds. I also do my best to share with others some of the good things I’ve come across in my day to day through my Three Good Things in my newsletter. It’s another way of writing it down and reminding myself of the good things in my life.
And the cup in the photo above is one I keep beside my bathroom sink. Every time I drink from it it’s another reminder to me of the things I am grateful for and that I really am living the good life.
What are you grateful for today?