Gratitude – The Secret To A Happier Life
Gratitude means a lot of things to different people. For some, it is a thankful appreciation for the kind acts of others – a polite expression. For others, it is an act of counting your blessings or looking on the bright side of life in the event of a setback.
Whichever way you view it, gratitude is more than expressing emotion based on thankfulness. It is a habit centred on having a positive outlook and seeing the good that surrounds you, despite the bad that often accompanies it.
Instead of being focused on a current situation that is not to your liking, developing an attitude of gratitude helps you to be at peace with yourself and all that you have.
A story is told of a writer who encountered an elderly man with poor eyesight while he was making his way carefully down a busy street. He was carrying an umbrella with one hand whilst balancing several brooms on his shoulder.
Though the writer was determined to find shelter from the frustrating downpour and the throng of people, she felt compelled to interview him.
She had heard stories about the jolly old man named Melvin Pickens who had put all his children through college by selling brooms. It would make for an intriguing story.
She bought a broom and asked Melvin for an interview. He accepted heartily and sat down with her in a crowded restaurant where most patrons knew him by name.
As the interview proceeded, Melvin shared his faith with her right from the start, then delved into his story.
The joy he expressed intrigued the writer as he talked about his family and his enriching encounters with people while selling his brooms. He refused the narrative of a poor handicap but agreed to the depiction of a thankful man who had lived a long and blessed life.
When the interview ended with a firm handshake and a heartwarming smile, the writer walked out and made a note to try her hand at being more appreciative of her life like him.
In her article, she shared how adopting the gratitude approach had added more meaning to her life.
Gratitude and Happiness
Often, we get so caught up in the trappings of life that we forget to be thankful for when things are going well for us. We complain about the sun in our eyes when the blind can only dream about what it looks like. Our job seems taxing when dealing with an impossible boss, yet it puts food on the table.
If only we could develop a habit of being grateful for what we have, we could spare ourselves a lot of misery.
The impact of gratitude on Melvin’s life and many like him is hard to miss. When you acknowledge the goodness in your life, you will be happier.
Gratitude helps you lean more towards positive emotions by reliving pleasant experiences over bad ones.
It makes it easier to shelve feelings of dissatisfaction when you are grateful for the accomplishments you have made.
Instead of complaining about certain situations, you change your perspective and express appreciation for what you have. This leaves room for joy even in the face of adversity.
Being grateful helps you view disappointing moments as temporary, which does wonders for your mental well-being.
This translates to better physical well-being as there is a correlation between mental and physical health.
When you are at peace with your circumstances, happiness is a guarantee. Focusing on the blessings surrounding you is less likely to keep you awake at night because you worry less.
Constant expression of gratitude towards other people also increases happiness, as it fosters stronger and healthier relationships.
If you appreciate your spouse, children, or family more, then you are less likely to pick fights with them over minor issues.
This translates to a healthier home life, where everyone is happy. The same goes for the work environment, which can become less stressful when leaders use positive reinforcement. This centres on appreciation for what your colleagues have achieved.
If this was the order of the day in most workplaces, people would be happy to go to work.
Ways To Express Gratitude
If gratitude is a habit, there are ways to ensure daily appreciation. A habit forms when you do certain steps repeatedly every day. Likewise, gratitude develops when you practice being thankful daily.
• Keep a journal
Choose a time every day where you write what you are grateful for. Look at the people who add value to your life and write what they do, or what they have done to bring happiness into your life.
• Express your gratitude
You can say what you are thankful for by any form of expression meaningful to you.
• Contact the people you are grateful for
Call someone just to express your appreciation for what they have contributed to your life. You can call them to thank them for their gift, or their service. You can also write them a thank-you note or perhaps even a letter just to let them know how much you appreciate them.
• Plan an event to express your gratitude
You could throw appreciation events for the people that add value to your life. Offer to make them dinner, take them out to lunch or buy them a gift. This may not be practical to do daily, but you can make it a habit by scheduling it in your diary regularly.
It helps you constantly look at things to appreciate what`s good about your life and the people who make it possible.
Gratitude is the secret to happiness because it changes your attitude towards life and your perception.
Your past suddenly seems less awful because you are thankful for lessons learned and memories made. Your present takes on a fresh look when you take nothing for granted. Your future looks promising because your outlook becomes more optimistic.