Want happiness? Get grateful!

The connection between gratitude and happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of wellbeing, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

Those individuals who exhibit and express the most gratitude are happier, healthier, and more energetic. Grateful people show fewer signs of stomachaches, headaches, nausea, and spend more time exercising!

But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

This is a simple extension of the Law of Attraction: Whatever you focus on increases. It isn’t about being blindly optimistic and whitewashing or ignoring the negative experiences in life. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. When we CHOOSE to focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

The Gift of Gratitude: When we focus on being grateful, we actually attract more things into our life for which we are grateful!

I like recording gratitude items in a Gratitude Positive Evidence Journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. This is accepting that when we focus on good things, the Universe joins in with us and magnetizes more good things to us. This is the MAGIC of any Gratitude Journal.

There are many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list?

Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

• Keep a Gratitude Journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. I suggest writing 5 things daily, however it can be daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way. Keep it simple. A beautiful sunset, your baby’s smile, or your airplane arriving on time.

• Express Your Gratitude in some form. Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures. Find your special way of expressing it: sing it, dance, it, paint it, any way that works for you. Be creative in expressing these feelings. This is especially helpful for those who are focusing on creating new, positive habits.

• Look at the positive in a situation, not what is wrong. Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation. Traffic is terrible on your way to work because of an accident, but your supervisor understands. Sometimes the blessing may be the lesson you learned from making an error. Service is slow in the restaurant, but you are really enjoying your friends’ company.

It is a warm, muggy afternoon in the Los Angeles area. I don’t care for it being so muggy, but I’m grateful it’s not 105 degrees since I need to leave for a meeting. And I’m so grateful for wonderful air conditioning in my home and office!

• Share Your Gratitude with Those Who Are Important to You. Take time to share good feelings with important people in your life. Share your positive feelings of gratefulness with others, with real heartfelt emotions. Tell someone how much they mean to you and why.

As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how much more positive, content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work. Send me an email with your favorite entries in your Gratitude Positive Evidence Journal. Notice the beautiful sunny day outside, trees lowing, time to breathe in the moment. What are you grateful for today?

Author's Bio: 

Helaine Z. Harris, LMFT, empowers heart-centered entrepreneurs to transform their life and business so it reflects their authentic self and their values. Helaine is an intuitive business coach, healer, psychotherapist with 35 years’ experience and founder of An Awakening Center, which blends over 45 traditional and alternative modalities to assist clients in fulfilling their life's dream. Sign up for her free training call - http://hzharris.com/businessintuitionteleseminar/