Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Gratitude for Greater Happiness

In a world full of modern life challenges it is easy to overlook our blessings and get into the habit of complaining. Being grateful is one of the techniques you can practice to achieve greater happiness in life.

A study of group of psychologists from University of California and University of Miami shows that being grateful makes us happier in life. The 10 week study of 196 people involves one group who are asked  to write down things for which they are grateful and another group to write down hassles that happen to them in those weeks ( i.e traffic on the way to work, a colleague who does not appreciate you). The study reports that the ‘gratitude’ group becomes 25% happier than the ‘hassle’ group.

Showing gratitude is an act of kindness to others and even to yourself. By saying ‘Thank you’ we allow ourselves to fully appreciate what life has provided us, either or small. 

It is not only a way of appreciating others but also a way of helping ourselves into more positive mental health through happiness.


So how can we practice gratitude? Here are some tips:

Keep a gratitude journal: Everyday find one thing you are thankful for and write it down on your diary. It does not have to be something big. You can write something as simple as ‘I am grateful for spending time with my family’ or ‘I am grateful because I have a job to go to’ or even ‘I am grateful because I am alive’. Sometimes I even find myself writing mundane things such as ‘ I am grateful for spending time with my dog’ or ‘I am grateful for the fun spent playing poker with my granddad!”

Do a gratitude meditation or a Thank You prayer: The purpose of a gratitude meditation or a Thank You prayer is to radiance our feelings our appreciation to the universe. Personally, I find praying at night very helpful, not just for the sake of my religion but also for the sake of my spirituality. I find that after I pray or meditate, there is always a smile that gleams on my face. I feel elated and blessed with the life’s abundance.

In order to do a gratitude meditation, you need to sit or lie down quietly and at ease. Allow your body to relax, be aware of your natural breathing. In your mind or out loud, say your thanks to how you have taken care of your body or how your family, friends and loved ones treat you. Imagine you are sending these vibrations of gratitude towards them and in return you are getting such profound happiness in your heart for being loved.

Write a Thank You card: Expressing gratitude has an immense impact on people. You can write and personally deliver a Thank You letter to someone who has been kind to you or has provided some positive changes in your life. You can deliver a Thank You letter to a family member who has helped you with challenging chores or a friend who has made you feel appreciated. You can even read your own letter in front of them.

In my experience I have given thank you cards to my mentors, teachers, and even to my partner who had been taking care of me when I was sick few months ago. I find giving Thank You cards an affirmation that I really appreciate them and they appreciate me. And because I start to realise how much importance I am to them, I learn to be appreciative of myself too. I feel happier because I know I am blessed in many ways in life.


Reference:

Emmons, R. A. and McCullouch M.E. (2003) Counting blessing versus burden, Journal of Personality and Psychology 84 (2), 3002, 377-89

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