So lately I have been feeling a bit down in the dumps and decided I needed to do something about it. Considering that many regard me to be a “happiness-guru” (though I think “person intrigued by happiness” would be a much more suiting title), I figured that I could surely evoke a strategy to spin things around for myself and hopefully you if you’re feeling the same.
After some reading and brainstorming I found something, then tried it and now feel it is worthy of sharing with you. This strategy (as the title suggests) is centered around gratitude. If you started reading the multitudes of articles discussing happiness on the web today you would find that in 4/5 of them gratitude is mentioned. Which is mainly because one person will write an article mentioning something such as gratitude and then 100 other people will read their post, tweak it and put it on their own site to try and generate traffic! Which is lame, but that’s just how it works people, original works are a dime a dozen on the webosphere.
Gratitude’s Role in Happiness
Anyhow, people are on the right track when they start to realize the key role gratitude plays in happiness. Heck gratitude’s so important that we have a holiday for it, “turkey anyone”? Gratitude is essentially the baby brother of happiness. If you are able to feel gratitude for anything, you will feel your chest lighten and a small crack will open in that vast pit of sadness within you, allowing happiness to slowly trickle in.
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. – Thornton Wilder
When you think about those things that you are grateful for you begin to reshape the inner-workings of your mind to start seeing the good in life. I have written before about how thinking positively can have such a tremendous impact on your daily happiness. But at the same time I realize how difficult it is to change the way your mind functions after years of suffering or living through harsh circumstances. I too struggle with changing the way my mind works to a completely bubbly “all sunshine and rainbows” perspective but I will say I know growth and improvement is possible as I have experienced that much. I have learned that the greatest improvements in outlook of life come from taking very teensy tiny baby-steps. Learning gratitude is one of them.
Don’t worry I am not accusing you of being a selfish, unappreciative snot nosed kid! Remember I said that I originally came up with this idea to help me as well! All I am saying is that in today’s world, due to the circumstances (economy, news, culture), it is more common to become negative-focused (here are some strategies to stop negative thinking) then it is to become positive-focused. So lets go against the odds and fight to enjoy life! Please give me the honor of teaching you how to use a gratitude journal as fun way to increase your happiness.
Let me start by saying that using the gratitude journal makes me feel so good that I stopped before writing this section to fill mine out for the day. That and also because I have attention issues!
The gratitude journal is really simple so please don’t feel like I am insulting your intelligence as I explain. Essentially what you do is buy a spiral notebook or name a folder on your computer “G-Journal”. Then find a time that works best for you to write. Maybe you like to write at night to reflect upon the good things that happened to you throughout the day, which calms you down and gives you peaceful dreams. Maybe you are like me and like to write in the morning in order to start your day off in a good mood. Or maybe you are extremely ambitious and like to write twice a day. Whatever system you use is completely up to you!
Start the top of the page with something fun such as “Dear G-Journal” and have at it. To help get you going I have come up with the following list of questions to think about, to help guide your writing:
What is going well right now? (Health, job, love-life, friends, family)
What do I have in my life right now that most other people would love to have? (Sometimes if I struggle with this one I will think about the homeless, parent-less, starving children in Africa and then I realize how good I have it!)
What things are good about me?
What are the small positives that have made me happy recently?
Write and reflect until you feel better about things and then conclude with some kind of fun sign off such as “Greatness comes from gratitude! -TJ”.
Honestly that’s all there is to it. If you prefer you can use a “gratitude rock” which was made popular by Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret. Essentially what you do with a gratitude rock is pick a special rock or object and place it in your pocket in the morning. Upon placing it in your pocket you must list 5 things you are grateful for and think about the reasons why. At the end of the day when you empty your pockets and touch the gratitude rock you do the same as you did in the morning but instead think of 5 different things to be grateful for. This is a great option if you don’t have the time for the journal or are afraid of nosy people reading what you write!
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. – Oprah Winfrey
On that note I think it is inspirational to share the things that you are grateful for and I think happiness rubs off on other people as they read the things others appreciate in life. If you have something to be grateful for please share with us. I will start by being cheesy and saying that I am grateful that you read this post and that the time I spent writing it was not in vain!
For more posts about gratitude please visit:
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