What are you grateful for?
You’ve had a bad day. Your co-workers were combative, your partner was irritable, you spilled coffee on your shirt, and you got stuck in traffic.
In fact it would feel great right now to just have a full on killer bitch session about all the problems in your life. So go ahead! Spend a couple seconds right now thinking of all the things that sucked about today.
Ok, done? How do you feel? Grumpy, irritable, tired, frustrated?
Now let’s flip that around. Starting at the beginning of your day think of all the things for which you are grateful.
It might start with the warm soft bed you sleep in. Maybe it’s not as nice as you would like, but you are inside and it’s better than a dirt floor.
Then you eat breakfast. Here you are with a bounty of food in front of you. So many people worked to bring this food to you. They planted seeds, grew grains, harvested, processed, packed, and trucked the food to a store where you could choose from a ton of different types of food. Amazing.
Then you get in your car or on your bike. Someone invented this. One day no car or bike the next BAM amazing efficient transportation.
As you go throughout your day notice the kindness people show. Notice all of the blessings that make your lifejust a little bit easier than it could be.
Ok now how do you feel? Warmer, calmer, more open?
Gratitude is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do to create happiness in your life. And this isn’t just conjecture. There’s actual science that backs it up.
In a study performed at the University of California, three groups of participants were asked to do some writing:
- One group wrote about things they were grateful for.
- Another group wrote about things that annoyed them.
- The last group wrote about things that had affected them (with no emphasis on good or bad).
After 10 weeks those who wrote about gratitude reported feeling more optimistic and happy. In addition researchers discovered the following connections:
- Practicing gratitude is easier than you think. When asked to rate their gratitude on a scale of 1 to 7, participants rated it as a 6.
- Gratitude improves your well being. Practicing gratitude creates more positive emotions including satisfaction and optimism. Plus it can help you feel fewer negative ones.
- It won’t turn you into PollyAnna. Being grateful won’t cause you to ignore or avoid the challenges in life.
- Gratitude improves your attitude towards others. If you’re grateful you will improve your ability to be more empathic, generous, and helpful to others.
- Gratitude improves your spirituality. The study found that people who practice some form of religion had a greater capacity for gratitude, because they were more likely to feel a stronger sense of community and connection.
- Gratitude decreases materialism. People who practice gratitude are less likely to value material things or measure their success in terms of material wealth. They were also more likely to share what they had with others.
HAPPINESS CHALLENGE # 4
Ok now that you’ve read the research it’s time to try it out yourself. Here is your challenge for today (if you choose to accept it).
- Practice – Sometime today take out your happiness journal or a fresh piece of paper and write down: 3 things you are grateful for And one positive event you experienced today. The 3 things can be new things in your life or they can be things you often rely on. Very often my daily list of 3 things includes my cat, my partner, and sweet sweet coffee. Your positive event can be any good thing that happened to you big or small. I’ve written about great workouts, smiles from strangers, and giving a great talk to a large group.
- Reflect – Reflect on how you feel. Did this practice help you feel better about your day and the things in your life? Did you notice anything you were grateful for that surprised you? Did you have a hard time coming up with 3 things to write? Whatever it is, take a moment and become aware of how this practice felt. You can even write a short journal entry, email, or blog post about it
- Share – Now it’s time to share what your gratitude and your experience with others. So do one or all of the following.
- Write a blog post about your experience of gratitude or about someone or something you are grateful for. Don’t forget to include a link or trackback to this post or if that’s too complicated post a link in the comments. BONUS: If you were grateful for a living breathing person, send them a link to your post and tell them that you are grateful for them.
- Write a social media post about one or all of the things you were grateful for and post it via twitter #30dayhappy and/or via facebook on the 30 Day Happiness Challenge Group Page. BONUS: Again if one of these is a person tag them in your post.
- Share your gratitude list, your positive event, your experience of the challenge, or any questions that this practice brought up for you in the comments below.
Again great work! I’ve loved seeing all of your posts so far and I’m very grateful for every one of you that has joined me on this challenge.