Where does happiness come from? Does happiness come after success, wealth, or the acquisition of a fancy car and expensive house? Do you get it from looking a certain way? Will it come once you find “the one?”
The truth is, those things can certainly enhance your happiness, but just having it isn’t enough to make you happy if you don’t feel gratitude for it.
You can easily find someone with millions of dollars or the perfect spouse who isn’t happy. If they have it all, why are they still unsatisfied? Because they don’t know how to practice gratitude. Studies are showing that gratitude creates happiness more than just acquiring more things, here is why:
How gratitude creates happiness
Gratitude changes the way you see the world. When you start to appreciate all the things you have now happiness comes so much more easily. Being consciousness of the good things in life brings inner peace. If an unexpected challenge comes you know that you’ll be ok because you still have so much good in your life.
Like attracts like, right? So when you cultivate good energy inside yourself you attract more good energy.
This doesn’t mean you have to be grateful when something terrible happens like getting injured or losing a loved one, but gratitude can be there for you in spite of those challenging times.
Gratitude eliminates our dependence on external things. It allows us to focus inwards and on what’s really important in life.
Studies show that even for people with mental health concerns, gratitude improves your mental health.
Benefits of a Gratitude Practice
- Increased happiness.
- Greater self confidence.
- Better sleep.
- A more positive body image.
- You stop feeling like you don’t have “enough.”
- You see challenges as lessons instead of obstacles.
- You notice more opportunities.
- You are not defeated by failures.
- The Mean Girl in your head becomes a cheerleader.
- You attract other positive people.
- Your happiness isn’t dependent on anyone or anything.
- You are less prone to stress and anxiety.
- You live in the present instead of the past or future.
- You are physically and mentally healthier.
How to make gratitude part of your daily life:
1. Keep a daily gratitude journal. You can type it into your phone or keep a notebook next to your coffee cup so you remember to write in it every morning. I have a reminder on my phone and list as many things as I can think of before bed.
2. Tell people “thank you.” Expressing gratitude to other people makes you both feel better. Whether it’s a stranger, family member, friend, coworker, or service worker, tell people thank you whenever you can. Especially service workers! They work really hard, usually for low pay, and have to deal with difficult people, so be extra nice to them! Telling people thank you encourages them to be more positive too so it keeps the cycle going.
3. Practice gratitude during meditation. In my How to Create a Magical Morning Routine post I listed some of the scientifically proven benefits of meditation and how it actually changes your brain. Meditation is the perfect pairing to gratitude.
Sit or lay comfortably, take a few moments to just focus on taking slow, deep breaths, and when you feel calm visualize or think of the things you are grateful for. This is great to do as you are trying to fall asleep or before you get out of bed in the morning.
Here is a 6 minute morning meditation to help you set intentions for the day and practice gratitude.
60 Things to be Grateful for
Everyday in November I’ll be writing down one new thing I’m grateful for and I challenge you to do the same. I’ve shared 60 ideas below and a free printable.
- Waking up safe every morning.
- Having the shelter of your home.
- Good books that expand your knowledge or imagination.
- Freshly washed sheets.
- Your heart that beats for you.
- Your lungs that breathe for you.
- Your legs that take you where you want to go.
- The beauty of the moon.
- Learning new things
- The sound and smell of rain.
- Having food to eat.
- Getting a good nights sleep.
- Cuddling with a pet.
- A great smelling candle.
- Long drives with great music.
- Cozy sweaters.
- Fall leaves crunching under your shoes.
- Freedom of speech.
- Music that moves you.
- Quiet moments where you can just be.
- Walks on the beach.
- Internet access.
- Clean water.
- A shower or bath after a long day.
- Living in the age of electricity and indoor plumbing!
- The feeling of a productive day.
- Good samaritans.
- Being in nature.
- Air conditioning in the summer.
- Heaters in the winter.
- Movie/Netflix nights.
- Family and friends.
- Cool, crisp morning air.
- The smell of baked goods.
- Holiday decorations.
- Earth for sustaining all the forms of life it does.
- Fuzzy socks.
- Clear starry nights.
- Finding money where you didn’t expect it.
- Laughing until you cry.
- Warm laundry fresh out of the dryer.
- Lazy days.
- Cheesy romance novels.
- Your body.
- The people who accept you as you are.
- The power that comes from taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions.
- Inspiring people who you can learn from.
- Hard lessons that made you stronger.
- Getting packages in the mail.
- Finishing something you started.
- Your favorite outfit.
- That fresh feeling you get from cleaning your house.
- A warm drink on a cold day.
- When an old favorite song comes on.
- All the amazing things still to come.
Final thoughts on why gratitude is so important
Taking a few moments every day to feel gratitude has brought more happiness into my life, and I hope this article encourages you bring a daily gratitude practice into your own life. I truly believe that gratitude is an essential part of finding happiness.
It’s so easy to feel like we can’t be happy until we have “the thing,” especially in the age of social media where we are told that we need to buy or experience x, y, and z to be happy. But we don’t need to wait for those things to be happy, we can let gratitude create happiness right now right where we are, with what we currently have.
Love and light.