People spend their whole lives searching for happiness. We even set milestones like, “when I graduate, I’ll be happy”, or, “when I make x amount of money, I’ll be happy”…but why aren’t we happier? We keep thinking about happiness as something to strive for, instead of something we should be living and feeling every day. Gratitude has been gaining traction in the world of positive psychology and is being called the key to happiness. People who actively express more gratitude report feeling higher levels of physical, and emotional well-being! They are just happier and healthier! Still don’t believe it’s that simple?
Here’s what the research says about living a happier healthier life:
A study with undergraduate students from a certain health class generated some pretty interesting results in terms of gratitude and happiness. They were split into two groups. One group wrote five blessings each day for a month, and the other group wrote 5 complaints. The results showed the blessings group were more optimistic, enthusiastic about life, and just happier. They were even more likely to exercise, which lead to higher levels of physical health (Emmons, R. A. & Shelton C. M., 2002)!
Gratitude even benefits our relationships! In a study involving couples, results showed that the couples asked to actively express appreciation toward their partner every day showed higher relational well-being and personal happiness (Slotter, E. B. 2015).
So what now?
You’re probably thinking, “that’s great, Annette, but what does this mean for me?”. It means start now, and with the little things! Try to start your mornings with meditation (or prayer) focusing on what you’re grateful for. Starting your day with a grateful heart allows you to feel more empathy, and joy which research correlates to living a happier healthier life. Seeing situations in a positive light and being empathetic, lowers your emotional arousal toward negative situations, keeping you peaceful. It takes a situation like your boss showing up late for a meeting from a negative encounter, to a positive one.
Negative response: “I can’t believe he’s late again! This is the second time this week.”
Positive response: “I know he’s not late to deliberately make me upset. I hope he’s okay.”
Live a Happier Life!
Happiness is not as elusive as many of us think it is. When we focus on being thankful, it allows us to be mindful of what we have NOW instead of constantly worrying about the future (Read more on that here). Slow down and smell the roses; it’s all part of the journey. We weren’t designed for our happiness to be dependent on our circumstances, we were simply designed to be happy. Show someone today how much they mean to you! I’m willing to bet it will make both their day and yours.
Let’s take a challenge: We are always posting silly things on social media! Why not post one person/thing we are grateful for the next 30 days and relish in the joy?
Related Post: Courage: Why it is The Key to Success