Thank Your Way to a Happier Life

Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.”

Amy Collette

Giving thanks, it’s such a simple concept, and yet it can bless our lives with a host of wonderful benefits. When the going gets tough, emotional exhaustion sneaks up on us and it’s easy to find ourselves in a perpetual cycle of overwhelm.

What if I told you there was a remarkably straightforward strategy for keeping negative emotions at bay and taming stress? The stress relieving tactic I am referring to is the art of showing appreciation.

Studies have shown that expressing gratitude can help us to feel healthier and happier. According to Harvard Health, ‘Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships’.

Here are just some of the many benefits we reap when we cultivate gratitude:

  • Increased happiness
  • Improved psychological and physical health and wellbeing
  • Elimination or reduction of negative emotions
  • Boosted self esteem
  • Stronger relationships and friendships
  • Enhanced positivity, motivation and optimism
  • The discovery of greater meaning in our lives and careers
  • Preserved mental health
  • Better ability to copy with and manage stress
  • A reduction in depressive symptoms

How to practice gratitude and live your best life

In order to be happy we must first possess inner contentment; and inner contentment doesn’t come from having all we want; but rather from wanting and appreciating being grateful for all we have.”

Dalai Lama

If you want to rewire your brain to unlock your inner joy and live more fully, cultivate gratitude with these simple tips:

Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have

Dwelling on what we are lacking will only deplete us of our energy. Historically speaking, we are among the luckiest people to ever live on Earth. We live in a time of great prosperity, peace and high living standards. Most of us never have to worry about where our next meal is coming from and we are privileged to receive free schooling, free healthcare and prospect of a comfortable retirement. We don’t have to deal with catastrophic diseases like the Black Plague and there are no autocratic, dictatorial, monarchical, or colonial rules in most of the countries that exist today. So, if you really take the time to think about it, there is so much more to be grateful for than you may have initially realised. What you focus on is what becomes powerful, so focus on the good!

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

Eckhart Tolle

Never play the comparison game

There will always be someone who has more than you, and there will always be someone who has less. If you allow the crippling emotions that accompany the comparison game to invade your space, you will only find yourself on a continual emotional rollercoaster that will erode your confidence and prevent you from making progress both personally and professionally. I repeat, learn to be content with what you have.

Keep a gratitude diary

On the simplest level this involves logging all the things you are grateful for on a daily basis. What this does is create a collection of inspirational reminders of all the good things in your life, past and present, to look back on when you are in need of a pick me up. In turn this will help you to savour life’s finer moments, and ease the pain when times are tough. It also provides a simple way to track life’s finer pleasures and encourage bad memories to dissolve. Checking in with your gratitude journal daily will serve you well by keeping your motivation levels high, particularly useful when life’s darker side arises.

Save space in your memory for the bad

When the going gets tough, the tough gets nostalgic! While it’s vital to remember the good, it’s also important to commemorate the bad. To truly appreciate the good times, we have to go through the bad times, and it’s the bad times that remind us of how strong and resilient we are. Remembering how we delved into our toolkit to help us navigate the tough times keeps the hope alive as we enter stormier waters. We may have drawn upon our inner strength, prioritised our relationships, or practiced mind/body relaxation techniques. Moreover, envisioning times of difficulty helps put things into perspective, and reminds us of the progress we’ve made.

Don’t keep your gratitude to yourself

Sharing our gratitude with others helps to strengthen our relationships, so be a tornado of happiness and gratitude. Don’t assume that the other person already knows how much you appreciate them, tell them! Or, send a thank you note, then revel in the joy that seeing that person light up brings you.

Engage in gratitude meditation

The simple practice of meditation enables you to reflect on all the things you are grateful for. Not only will this increase your feelings of gratitude, it will also boost your mood, sleep quality, and ability to cope with stress. The best part? You can incorporate this intervention into your life with minimal cost and effort. To experience the benefits of meditation faster, commit to developing and sustaining a regular meditation practice of 3 – 5 sessions a week. You could join a class with an organisation such as Kadampa Buddhist Meditation, or you could enjoy one of the many guided meditations available on YouTube. Or, for greater ease, you could download a meditation app such as Headspace, Calm or Simple Habit.

Master the art of appreciating the little things in life

It’s not only life’s bigger events that bring us joy, in fact it’s those little things that make up the beautiful fabric that is our lives.

Some of the wonderfully small things in life that bring us joy every day are:

  • A warm cup of our favourite beverage on a cold, dreary day
  • Taking a walk in breath-taking scenery
  • Getting into bed with fresh sheets
  • Taking an extra long, candle lit bubble bath
  • Receiving a massage
  • Laughing with a friend
  • Exploring a new city
  • Looking out the window in the morning and realising it’s a warm, sunny day
  • Cuddling a pet
  • Visiting a new place
  • Making someone you care about smile
  • Enjoying a movie night with a close friend
  • Taking a nap in the middle of the day
  • Diving into your favourite book
  • Listening to your favourite song
  • Visiting your favourite café or restaurant
  • Giving or receiving a sincere compliment
  • Helping someone in need

So, there you have it, cultivating gratitude can profoundly change your life!

To learn more about how giving thanks can make you happier, I’m confident you’ll enjoy reading my book ‘Cultivating Gratitude – Everyday Devotional : 30 Days of Gratitude Celebrations to Start Enjoying Life Right Now! 

Between the 22nd – 30th Nov, I am running a special Black Friday deal! Purchase ‘Cultivating Gratitude’ within that period and receive 25% off!

If I can help you thank your way to a happier life, please contact me here.

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