Tag Archives: Gratitude
How often do you stop to reflect on what you have? Do you tell the people in your life how much they mean to you on a regular basis? Do you feel thankful for good weather, for new opportunities, for simple pleasures and little conveniences that make your life easier?
If not, it might be time to start thinking this way.
Gratitude is perhaps the single most powerful component of living a happy life. We’ve talked in the past about the importance of connecting with others, of using your energy to improve the lives of others, and even touched on SoulPancake’s study on gratitude – but a lifestyle of thankfulness involves ALL of these topics.
It’s about appreciation for what’s in front of you, and looking for the elements worth appreciating in every experience, both good and bad.
When you learn to live with gratitude, it’s like seeing the silver lining of every cloud – but even beyond making the most out of unfavorable situations, thinking and living in this way opens you up to looking at the world with a very different set of eyes.
Gratitude is more than thankfulness (even though feeling thankful is part of it). Sure, you’ll feel “thankful” when someone does you a favor or pays you a compliment, but a mindset of gratitude will allow you to see the goodness within those people, to appreciate all of the moments that have built up to their kind words or actions (in both your life and theirs), and ultimately prepares you to articulate how important such acts of kindness really are.
It’s like accomplishing multiple goals with a single state of mind! A grateful attitude helps you look on the bright side, it makes you more open to connecting with new people and appreciating the people already in your life, it makes you notice and celebrate small successes (and look for lessons in failures), helps you feel confident and brave, and gives you a reason to smile!
Notice that every one of those things mentioned above is a pathway to happiness on its own – and gratitude helps bring about ALL OF THEM.
Living a life of gratitude is a gateway to greater happiness and more connection with the world around you. You can start small – look for things to appreciate in your immediate surroundings. Look to the things that make you the happiest, and start making it a regular practice. Soon you’ll be looking for things to appreciate everywhere – and then you’ll do it without even thinking about it!
This is your chance to totally change your approach to daily life. Get started now!
Two of the biggest roadblocks to happiness share a source. For some, it’s regret. For others, it’s obsessing about the “good ol’ days” – the way things once were.
For both groups of people, though, a focus on the past is preventing them from being happy in the present. It doesn’t matter if those memories of the past are positive (good ol’ days) or negative (regret), they both create an unrealistic and unhealthy approach the present – and the future.
If you’re stuck on the past because of something you regret, you’re walking around with your own personal raincloud. It will prevent you from seeing your own self worth, or even accepting that you’ve grown and changed – and may not even be the same person who behaved so regrettably.
Now, you shouldn’t forget your past entirely, especially if you harbor some guilt over something you once did. You should, however, accept the fact that what’s done is done. You can do your best to make amends for your mistakes, to right whatever wrongs you may have caused, but after accepting responsibility and making an effort to put things right, there isn’t anything else you can do!
It’s good to remember your mistakes in order to learn from them, but they don’t have to define who you are, or how you assume others think of you.
Looking to the past with too much fondness and nostalgia can be equally poisonous, though. When you think your best is behind you, you stop having something to look forward to. If you think your life has already “peaked,” how do you find joy in the present?
This mentality actually minimizes the happiness people experience because, no matter what happens, it always seems less significant than the “glory days.”
Remembering past accomplishments with fondness can be helpful – it can fill you with confidence, and help you make use of the lessons you learned along the way – but if it’s getting in the way of your ability to experience happiness in the moment, it’s a serious problem.
Instead of looking to the past, whether that past is full of sunshine or shadow, accept that it’s done and over with. It will always be a part of your life, but what happened yesterday can only affect today so much. That’s the thing about the past – there’s no changing it, and no getting it back.
You do control the present though, and it’s up to you to find your own happiness in the here and now!
“Research shows that expressing gratitude makes you happier and healthier.”
The above phrase proudly welcomes you to Happier.com, neatly conveying the philosophy behind this new app combining a social gratitude journal with a positive community. Happier could be simply described as a thoughtful, positive spin on Twitter, but it’s truly much more than that. Designed to encourage users to express and appreciate what makes them happy in life, the app also acts as a head check for those moments when we forget what keeps us going every day.
“There is no way I can anticipate all the good things that are going to happen today.”
– Brian Narelle
The above phrase was the first thing that I saw after signing up for the app and checking out the Featured page. I was having a nothing-special day at work and it made me take a step back and think for a moment: what good things have happened today? I lost track after a dozen. Taking stock of the little things, the good things in our lives, seems like an easy thing, yet it’s just as easily forgotten. This app first and foremost helps internalize that recognition and jumpstart the feelings of gratitude that naturally springs forth.
This focus on gratitude is important.
Last Sunday, on the Oscars broadcast, Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey expressed himself in a most eloquent way. He said that he needs three things in life: someone to look up to, something to look forward to, and someone to chase. He says that he looks up to God, and in his words, “He has shown me that it is a scientific fact, that gratitude reciprocates.” Funny enough, science backs this statement up.
Research has defined gratitude as a social emotion that helps bind us to our communities and enhances relationships. Primatologists have observed behaviors that look remarkably like gratitude in chimpanzees, who are more likely to share food with peers who have recently groomed them. This begs the question: what is the physiological payoff for feeling grateful? The research suggests that you’ll feel more optimistic, better able to manage stress, and even more enthusiastic about exercise, leading to better sleep. If you don’t naturally gravitate toward expressing gratitude, there are simple fixes designed to set you on that path. One example is writing down the things that you are thankful for. Doing so on a regular basis can achieve remarkably similar benefits.
This brings us back to what Happier is all about: shaping our internal and external lives in small, gradual ways, toward a more grateful, and ultimately, happier form. The community centers around posts like you’d see on Twitter or Facebook, with a positive twist: little blurbs about what brings happiness to your life, thoughts on how to make today better by appreciating what’s already there, and advice to others on how to train yourself to actively seek out and acknowledge that which makes life worth living.
Friends – or anyone you find inspiring and interesting – will see your posts and “me too” them (the equivalent of a Like on Facebook) and leave comments of encouragement and camaraderie. In turn, you can do the same for their happiness posts. The app keeps track of your milestones, encouraging you with every 5, 10, 50 moments of happiness that you share, incentivizing the process as it, internally, incentivizes your thought process toward a positive approach to experiencing life. This feedback loop of gratitude can truly work wonders for people, as evidenced just by my short time spent with the app.
The encouragement received from sharing even the tiniest bits of happiness in your day comes in the form of others seeing your moment and feeling happy themselves. Knowing that you’ve made someone smile inherently feels great. If you’re having a truly rough time and can’t think of anything to share, just browse through your friends’ experiences and something is sure to perk you up and brighten the day. When you think about it, that moment itself can be your happiness. Go ahead and share it, knowing you’re doing the same for someone else having a dark moment today!
This notion of positive feedback is the core of why Happier was created: being the social animals that we are, expressing gratitude for our lives will have others realizing what they’ve been taking for granted. This will only make us more grateful and happy for the positive emotions that we’re helping to spread. The science behind this idea backs up what we know in our hearts when we feel it: gratitude makes us happier and healthier people.
Give Happier a try at www.happier.com or download the app (currently only on Apple but coming soon to Android) for your mobile device. You’ll be wheeling through lists of positivity and brightness in no time. You don’t need the app to appreciate life’s small moments of grace, but it helps keep track of them in this fast paced world. Always remember that gratitude is not only good for you; it’s truly essential for the happiness of us all.
If you want to be happy, make others happy.
That seems counterintuitive and oversimplified, right? What does the happiness of others have anything to do with the amount of happiness you experience on a personal level?
Quite a bit, it turns out!
Putting effort into improving the lives others, in fact, is one of the most direct and measurably effective ways at increasing levels of happiness in ourselves, from giving gifts and spending money on friends, to volunteering for a charity or simply helping a stranger on the street.
Psychologist, author, and happiness expert Martin Seligman says, “…we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”
Our own experiences support this, if you think about it – doesn’t watching a loved one open a gift fill you with joy? Doesn’t the money spent on an event with people you care about yield more happiness than simply buying an object for yourself?
Simply doing good, engaging in altruistic behavior that somehow brightens the day of another person, makes you feel good about yourself. These boosts to your self esteem, your perceived sense of self-importance, your understanding of the impact you have on the world around you, even your sense of community with the people around you – all of these serve to make you happier.
People who volunteer (including kids and young adults) gain levels of self-esteem and happiness that remain present outside of the acts of kindness, and become a permanent state of improved well-being!
It’s almost as if you reward yourself for helping others with a more positive view of the world (and your place in it) – and this makes perfect sense! When you can make someone else’s life better, shouldn’t you feel great about it?
So there you have it, a sure fire way to boost your own happiness while making the world a better place. If you want to make your own life better, make someone else’s life better!
There are volunteer opportunities around every corner, and people all around you could use a kind word, help with a project, some friendly advice, even just the pleasure of your company.
Now roll up your sleeves and get out there to lend a helping hand!
What makes you happy? Have you ever thought about what exactly it is?
Recently, psychologists have scientifically proven that one of the greatest contributing factors to overall happiness in your life is how much gratitude you show. The SoulPancake team decided that it would be a great idea to test this out.
They began by gauging the happiness of a group of volunteers before asking them to think of someone who was truly influential and important in their lives. The volunteers then wrote down as much as they could about why this person was so important. After this moment is when the true experiment took shape.
SoulPancake gave the volunteers a telephone and had them call up the person they had written about. Each person read his or her statement directly to whoever they had found most important; the reactions were extraordinary. Tears were shed, laughing erupted, and a few people got the chance to reconnect with friends and family they had been separated from by time and distance.
One volunteer, breaking down crying, read aloud, “Erica is my older sister and my best friend. Sometimes it even feels like we are twins. She is my number one fan and my number one supporter. She makes me happy because despite all my mistakes and all my decisions, she still loves me no matter what. I will never forget when she flew three thousand miles at the drop of a phone call to save me from a breakup.” The immense feeling behind this display of gratitude was palpable and the sisters’ connection shined through, even over the phone.
After the phone calls, one final aspect of the experiment remained: testing the volunteers’ happiness levels a second time. Rewording the test so they weren’t aware it was the same thing, host Julian notes that, even for the few individuals who could not reach the object of their gratitude, happiness levels increased between 2 and 4%. Simply thinking about and writing these notions down made a small difference.
However, the volunteers who got to express themselves personally found increases of happiness between 4 and 19%, a substantial difference.
The most notable finding was that the person who walked in with the lowest happiness levels had the biggest jump after the experiment. What you can take away from this is that, if you’re having a particularly down day, or a really tough time, trying this exercise in gratitude will more than likely have a great impact on you.
So, show your gratitude to someone important in your life, someone who deserves it. You’ll both feel better off. It’s scientifically proven!