Gratitude or thankfulness is appreciation for what you receive, tangible or intangible. With gratitude, you acknowledge the goodness people have in their lives.
Expressing gratitude for the things you have, and the things you receive, makes you happier — as science shows.
In positive psychology, gratitude is strongly associates with higher levels of happiness. Gratitude helps you feel more of positive emotions, savor the good life experiences better, improve your physical and mental health, deal better with the hard times, and build lasting relationships. And the thing is, whatever your current level of gratitude, it’s something you can nurture and grow.
So, take stock of your life today as you look at the equation below:
More the number of things or experiences you have in your life to be thankful for, the bigger is the upper figure in the equation below, and the happier you are. And, more the number of goals still left unsettled in your day, year, or life, the bigger is the denominator, and smaller the consequent happiness is.
Sonja Lyubomirsky says, “The expression of gratitude is a metastrategy for achieving happiness.”
Robert Emmons, the best known researcher on gratitude defines it as “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life”.The expression of gratitude is a metastrategy for achieving happiness. Click To Tweet
Can Thankfulness Make You Happier?
Is there any link between gratitude and happiness? Can thankfulness make you happier?
- When you’re thankful, you take maximum note of the gifts of life. You take immense pleasure in their presence in your life.
- Gratefulness also indirectly appreciates your accomplishments – the things you’re thankful for, are the very things you’ve achieved in your life.
- Thankfulness also breeds generosity in us, as was found in a study. The study pointed out that people who were thankful towards their benefactor were generous towards strangers as well.
- Gratefulness practiced regularly has been shown to reduce overall emotions of negativity, as anger and jealousy. And, perhaps, not so strangely, several studies have shown that even ‘unexpressed’ thankfulness has benefits – those people they feel thankful towards, with them they share a greater bond.
You can be thankful for as simple things as a bright new morning – thankful that you’ve a gift of a promising day, a things millions of people aren’t promised.
Practicing thankfulness is perhaps the ‘easiest’ happiness activity you can do.
How To Grow Your Gratitude Levels
Gratitude is to appreciate what you have in your life.
A few ways to grow your gratitude:
- Write a gratitude letter, or a thank-you note.
- Thank someone in person, or in your mind.
- Keep a gratitude journal, and fill it in every night.
- Practice the 3 Good Things happiness exercise.
- Count your blessings whenever you can, everyday.
- Try to set a habit of daily mindfulness meditation.
If you always keep wishing for things you don’t have while hoping they will bring you happiness, you will be sorely disappointed. Those things, once acquired or achieved, can reward you at best with a few moments of joy. Beyond that, they can’t do much. They can’t bring you lasting happiness.
On the other hand, science shows gratitude is the key to happiness. Being grateful not only makes us savor the joy of the moment, it also makes you happy in afterglow as you remember it.
So, right now, as you finish reading this: Thank someone for something. If not to them in person, then at least in your mind. You’ll be happier as a result.
Here is a Jane Ransom talking about the relationship between gratitude and happiness, and how a regular practice of gratitude can lead to happiness.Thank someone for something, if not to them in person, then at least in your mind. Right now. Click To Tweet
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Author Bio: Sandip Roy is psychology writer, happiness researcher, and medical doctor. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related topics.
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