Expressing Gratitude Will Boost Happiness

Many studies have shown gratitude can change our mood or outlook on life. I recently read a study which outlined the neural correlates of gratitude  showing what actually happens in our brain when we feel grateful. 

Ultimately, studies suggest that it is impossible to feel grateful and stressed at the same time. 

Think about that.  It is physically impossible for the mind and body to feel stress while we are feeling grateful.

Other studies have also shown that people who are grateful:

  • Are generally happier people
  • Have a higher level of life satisfaction
  • Have lower rates of depression and stress
  • Feel they have a higher level of overall control
  • Have an overall sense of improved wellbeing
  • Cope with life events in a more positive manner
  • Sleep better (!)

Sounds good to me! Here are a few ways to start (or continue) your commitment to gratitude:

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Many authors, researchers and professionals recommend keeping a gratitude journal or inventory. This can even be effective a couple of times  a week. Start out by listing about five things you are grateful for. It is best to think of a wide variety of things you are grateful for in your life, as well as the small things that occur daily. If you do not FEEL grateful, if you are not motivated, or you feel it is a chore, start out with once a week. The key is to feel and not just go through the motions.
  • Start and end the day by verbally saying “thank you.” Make it a ritual. This habit will serve as a reminder to shift your thoughts.
  • Notice what is going RIGHT in your day and in your life in general. When we focus on what we feel is not going well, we can bring ourselves down.
  • Express your gratitude towards OTHER PEOPLE (which creates my favorite - the ripple effect). Write thank you notes.
  • Notice the small gifts throughout the day. Stop and take a moment when you are at restaurants, at work, at the market, what you are grateful for.

When we are thankful for what we have, we are one step closer to a flourishing life.

As with anything, a happier life comes down to PERSPECTIVE. (I cannot emphasize attitude and mindset enough.) I know a woman who is wheelchair -bound who is immensely grateful for her wheelchair as it gives her FREEDOM. How many of us would feel that way?  

At the end of each day, I make a conscious effort to regroup and reflect on the day’s events.  I think about what I learned and in order to be more mindful of the things I may take for granted. If I don't, it is easy to focus on the negatives. 

I feel grateful for getting to meet and work with such interesting people. Everyone I come in contact with serves as my teacher, and they certainly teach me something every day.

I am grateful for YOU (my readers and clients), electricity, a hot shower or bath, for my family & friends, for my health and for the ability to read. 

I continue to learn my own lessons to focus on what I have instead of what I do not have. I continue to remind myself that what we focus on expands. 

How about you?  What or who are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments below!

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