By Jerry Posner
More and more, I’m reading articles and scientific studies linking “happiness” to “gratitude.” This is pretty much a no-brainer: the more gratitude and thankfulness I feel, the happier I become. The more appreciation I express to others, the more happiness I spread. I don’t think we need too much research here – seems like obvious common sense to me.
But “common sense” without practice isn’t very practical … or powerful!
“Practicing” strongly suggests “doing something” – not just once or twice, but repeatedly. Eventually making skills or habits — habits of behavior, habits of thinking, habits of feeling, interpretation, perception, etc.
You’ve heard the cliche “practice makes perfect.” Well, practice doesn’t make perfect … practice makes habits! Repeatedly practice something the “wrong” way, and you get very good at doing something wrong! For example, you might know some folks who are absolute masters of negative thinking … self-pity … self-sabotage …
So, with regard to gratitude, what to practice?
FEELING GRATEFUL for the good things, the love, the laughs, the lessons, the people, the opportunities, the help, the stuff, the miracles, the food, the music, the technology, etc.
EXPRESSING GRATITUDE for the good things, the love, the laughs, the lessons, the people, the opportunities, the help, the stuff, the miracles, the food, the music, the technology, etc.
How do you FEEL when you feel grateful?
Happy? Peaceful? Blessed? Centered? Generous? Secure? Calm?
Thinking and expressing thankful thoughts, and amplifying feelings of gratitude, can reduce stress … improve relationships … and minimize pettiness! Beginning a dinner or business meeting by going around the table and having everyone mention something they’re grateful for or happy about, can have significant positive impact.
You can’t lose with gratitude!
Sincerely thank your customers, coworkers, friends, and family. Thank your vendors, suppliers, supporters and fans! Be generous with your gratitude. Do it today. Do it all year round!
Write yourself some gratitude-oriented “focus phrases” (reminders) on cards and sticky-notes, and put them where you’ll see them every day. We NEED reminders! We’re human. We forget! We get distracted!
I CHOOSE TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE SINCERELY, GENEROUSLY AND LIBERALLY.
I EASILY AND REGULARLY GIVE THANKS.
I FEEL GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF MY GIFTS AND BLESSINGS.
EXPRESSING GRATITUDE MAKES ME FEEL GOOD — SO I DO IT!
Here’s a fun and potentially enlightening “grati-tool” –- make a list of 10 people who have helped you get to where you are right now — 10 people you’re grateful for. 10 people who helped you succeed, taught you important lessons, loved you.
We might be reminded of that kind childhood neighbor, or high school guidance counselor whose caring changed the course of our life. When we remember how kind and generous people have been in our lives, we might be inspired to pass it on, or “pay it forward.” We might even reclaim some memories of our personal history that we’d forgotten. And … it just might make us feel happier! Revisit your list from time to time (weekly, perhaps), and keep adding to it.
So, thank the people! Show some appreciation for them. Send thank-you notes. Tell the people you love, that you love them. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Another way to practice the practical power of gratitude is a one-minute stress-buster — THE GRATITUDE BREAK. First, select something specific about your life that you are truly, deeply thankful for (person, condition, or thing). Something or someone that you feel genuinely happy about. Then … close your eyes (not while you’re driving, please) and spend just one minute thinking about, and vividly imagining (if you can), that person, condition or thing. FEEL the gratitude and happiness as you visualize!
Try a gratitude break once a day, and see what happens! Twice a day would be an interesting experiment.
A favorite “grati-tool” that's been getting a huge amount of press is THE GRATITUDE JOURNAL (a.k.a. “Five Good Things”). Here’s what to do: every day (that would be DAILY), write down five things you are grateful for. They can be deep … shallow … serious … funny … spiritual … material. Just list five things you’re grateful for on paper or computer. Not in your head. Write them down.
Your mileage may vary! People who write a daily gratitude journal often report improved relationships, less stress, more patience, better decision making, feeling more secure … and more happiness!
During challenging times, regular focus on gratitude can restore much needed balance. Not to deny that there might be some adversity or challenges, but to remember that there are wonderful things and opportunities available as well.
Practice the practical power of gratitude, and make every day, a day of thanks-giving.
So many benefits … so small a cost!
And, thank YOU for reading my article! I appreciate it!