HAPPINESS IS… BEING GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE

Happiness is a big thing for me and I will forever maintain my quest to be and stay happy. As part of that, I have previously published some thoughts on life, loss and staying grateful and today we have a guest post from Stella Van Lane who takes a further look at our perspectives on the things we already have. 

Human nature is wanting everything we don’t have and dwelling on all the negative aspects of our lives instead of celebrating everything we have and focusing on all the things that are going well for us. But being grateful has the power to block out all of these negative emotions, as you can’t pay attention to what’s missing if you let your mind pay attention to everything there is. Gratitude is a great contributor to our overall happiness, positivity and optimism. After all, William Penn said it best: “The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.” So,  here are a few simple things to do in order to start feeling more blissful on a regular basis:

Replace complaints with thankfulness

Most of the time we don’t even realize how much negativity we exude by complaining about the world around us and criticizing ourselves as well. These unpleasant thoughts are nothing but a waste of our time and energy and they prevent us from seeing the incredible things that are happening right in front of our eyes. So, when you find yourself focusing on what you believe you are lacking, replace it with thoughts of things you are thankful for. No matter how insignificant or mundane these things may seem, expressing gratitude towards them daily will undoubtedly increase your levels of satisfaction and contentment.

Keep a gratitude journal

Start practising gratitude today by writing down one hundred things you are grateful for in your life as it is right now. Don’t worry about only including items you feel are significant enough – they can be big things, small things and anything in between. If you’ve had a good cup of coffee this morning or your favourite song played on the radio while you were driving to work, write it down. Try to write this list as quickly as possible without pausing too much, and don’t worry if your list contains a lot of small things. Minor experiences and events in your life can be much more contributory to your happiness than considerable ones. Then, continue this habit by writing down ten good things that happened to you or that you are grateful for every day. This informs your brain that there exists a lasting pattern, a life theme even, of gratitude.

Share the love with your friends and family

Another great way of expressing gratitude is by telling or showing your loved ones just how much you appreciate them. You can start by saying thank you more often, even for small things, by complimenting them on their appearance or personality traits, or by praising them for their efforts. Writing a personalized thank you letter expressing your love and appreciation for your friend’s impact in your life will undoubtedly strengthen your relationship. Prepare your mother her favorite home-cooked meal or buy your dad unique unique Father’s Day gifts he’s always wanted. Giving presents is one of the best ways to show how grateful you are for everything your parents have done for you over the years. Expressing your gratitude will not only make your loved one happy, but it will also fill you with satisfaction and happiness, thus strengthening the special bond between you.

Practice present moment awareness

The habit of being fully present in the moment and being grateful for it, instead of wishing for something in the past or the future, can truly shift your perspective. Slow down and take the time to enjoy and savor every aspect of your everyday experiences. Observe your surroundings and engage all of your senses. Feel the chair you are sitting in, listen to every inhale and exhale you make, and soak up the warmth of the pleasant sun rays. When you start being more present, you will become more accessible to yourself as well as the people around you. And savoring an everyday experience helps you be grateful just for being alive and for the opportunity to enjoy everything life has to offer.


Think bigger than yourself

Become involved in a cause that is important to you. As you become aware of those who are less fortunate than you, you will start to feel a deeper appreciation for everything that you have. If you are an animal lover, try volunteering at a local shelter. Or try offering some of your services or expertise to a non-profit organisation which helps those in need. Helping others without getting anything in return paves the way for us to foster our inner spirituality and helps us be more happy and content with ourselves.

Stella

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