Two Small Words to Happiness
Sometimes we’ll see someone who looks like they have everything; enough money in the bank, people who love and admire them, a certain joie de vivre and on top of everything else they’re modest and grateful. They’re courteous and appreciative of so much. You might think they’re grateful because they’re happy, but it might just be the other way around. There’s a really good chance they’re happy because they’re grateful.
Remember there are all kinds of people who have everything a person could wish for and are still devastatingly unhappy and there are others who’ve suffered through misfortune and setbacks and still manage to find deep, abiding happiness.
Gratitude is a byproduct of recognizing the potential of every new moment, of focusing your attention on the positives, not dwelling on the negatives and recognizing that every new moment is a new opportunity to try again.
In the Ted Talk, Want To Be Happy? Be Grateful, David Steindle-Rast provides three simple steps towards achieving a gratitude leaning life. Stop. Look. Go.
By rushing through life we miss the opportunities being presented to us. By not pausing to look around, we take things that so many others could consider a luxury like clean water and electricity at the flick of a switch for granted.
Stop and Look at the abundance that’s around you, then Go. See what each moment is presenting. Either enjoy the moment for what it is or take the moment up on what it’s offering and do something. The best part about taking the time to notice what each moment is offering is it helps you realize that even if you don’t take full advantage of that moment, another moment is coming up right behind it full of its own opportunities. If the thing being presented in a particular moment is an opportunity to help someone else there’s probably little that will make you happier.
Working from a perspective of gratefulness you’re less likely to be fearful of taking chances, you’re more likely to take the time to really appreciate what the people around you can offer. There are a multitude of benefits to being grateful. Here are a few:
Helps strengthen relationships
When someone says thank you and acknowledges what you’ve done for them, you like them and you will probably want to do more with them. It’s a no brainer. You like the person you are in their eyes and you like them for bringing that person out. Turn that around. If you want to foster strong relationships don’t forget to let the people around you know how grateful you are for their thoughts and contributions.
Improved physical and psychological health
Focusing on positives rather than negatives improves physical and psychological heath. According to Boost Your Health With a Dose of Gratitude from WebMD, Focusing on the positives rather than the negatives helps us better manage stress – which is linked to heart disease and cancer. Plus, people who are grateful are also generally more optimistic, which it turns out is an immune booster.
By focusing on the positives you’re giving less attention and thought to the negatives so gratitude takes precedence over envy, regret and anger. Happiness levels increase and levels of depression decrease.
Holding an attitude of gratitude during they day will continue to stay with you into the night and can actually help you sleep better. In the article How Gratitude Helps You Sleep at Night from Psychology Today they explain:
“When you cultivate gratitude throughout the day, you’re more likely to have positive thoughts as you’re drifting off to sleep. Rather than ruminating over the friend who forgot to call, you’re thinking of the coworker who stayed late to help you. Instead of obsessing over bills, you’re thinking of the new client you just landed. With positive thoughts as a lullaby, you’re more likely to drift off into peaceful slumber.”
Increased feeling of self worth
When you stop comparing yourself to others, feeling envious of their accomplishments, like life’s runner up, and start feeling grateful for what you have accomplished, your self-esteem rises accordingly. Gratitude is an emotion that builds on itself. The more grateful you are, the more you find to be grateful for. You stop taking opportunities and other people for granted. You appreciate what you have and notice potential when its there in front of you. You feel better about yourself and your situation. Suddenly you realize you’re not grateful because you’re happy. You’re happy because you’re grateful.