A Simple Life Hack For Deep Happiness: Practicing Gratitude
“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” -Lionel Hampton
Maybe the simplest and most effortless habit for living a happier life is to take a few minutes every day to focus on what is already here in your life for which you feel grateful.
Gratitude can help you to…
- Lift your mood and boost motivation very quickly.
- Find the things in your life on which you want to focus even more of your time and energy.
- Not just take things for granted and find joy even during the toughest times.
When considering how to approach a gratitude practice it’s often best to keep it simple. A wonderful way to begin practicing gratitude is by making an early morning gratitude list and then again at the end of day before bed. Sounds awesome right? Start the day with gratitude and end the day with gratitude, which in turn brings about happiness and peace in your life.
Here are a few more reasons why you might consider taking on a gratitude practice:
1. Gratitude usually gives us immediate relief from painful emotions. You can pause, take a breath, think of one thing for which you are grateful, smile, and while you soak in gratitude your emotions will shift (even if just for a few minutes of relief).
2. Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it. You can keep it all to yourself and still feel the benefits. Take out a notebook or open your journaling app and list three things or three people and why you are grateful for them. Notice how you feel before you start and then how you feel when you complete your gratitude list.
3. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain. Science has proven that a regular practice of gratitude will improve your mental, emotional, and physical health. Your brain’s neural pathways will actually start to change. It’s kind of mind-blowing (pun intended) that the brain is creating new paths and changing everyday.
It could be that you were a good father, mother or friend in a moment of crisis this week. It could be that you finally finished a task that you had been putting off. You can be grateful for your good sense of humor or that you help people out a lot by being a good listener from time to time.
There are times that it can feel really difficult to think about the good things that perhaps we can’t quite see in that moment. When that happens, try going back to the basics and consider food, water, and shelter. What about your health or your family’s health? What about the trees and plants that provide oxygen that we need to breathe? Is there just one person in your life whom you are thankful to know? Then there are the truly simple things in life like a good cup of tea or coffee, a favorite cozy pair of pajamas, feeling the sunlight shining on your face, or a good song on the radio. Feeling gratitude for these things is just as significant.
An easy way to start this practice is by thinking about the answers to these questions:
- What is one very small thing for which I feel grateful today?
- What is something for which I can be grateful about myself?
- What is one thing I may usually take for granted for which I can be grateful?
Then try one of these tiny time commitments every day for a week and see how it impacts your thoughts, feelings and life:
- Take one minute in the morning to begin your day with gratitude by finding three small or big things for which you are grateful in your life.
- Take a couple minutes each evening and use a journal to write down three to five things you are grateful for about your day, about yourself or about your life.
What if we didn't take good things for granted, and recognized all the kindness we receive from others or all the good and beauty that exists around us? How would we be different? It’s a powerful question and I, personally, want to know the answer! I intend to do my best to always live my life through the lens of gratitude. What about you?