Gratitude: the key to happiness

It is not happy people who are thankful, but thankful people who are happy

If you were to pick up a pen and write down a list of 10 incidents you are unhappy about, how long would it take you? 10 minutes or may be even lesser. Now on the other side of the same paper write down 10 incidents for which you are grateful. How long would this take you? You are really an evolved soul if it takes you less than 10 minutes!

Gratitude is the road to happiness

Doing an activity we enjoy—be it gardening, watching movies, or meeting friends— makes us feel temporarily happy. However, one of the surest and most fulfilling ways to experience happiness is to have a heart filled with gratitude. Over the decades, research has shown that people who express gratitude have a better sense of wellbeing as compared to those who don't.

For most people expressing gratitude isn't as easy [or rather doesn't come as naturally] as complaining. Gratitude is more than saying, “Thank you,” when someone greets you or brings you a gift or does a kind deed. True gratefulness is more than just a customary greeting or expression; it needs to genuinely come from the heart. It is a thanksgiving, to honour and appreciate those who unknowingly enrich our lives in the course of just being themselves, without an aim to please us.

What I’m grateful for…

When I started understanding the nature of gratitude, I felt my heart genuinely reach out to all the beings [living or non-living] that have helped me be who I am today. I realised I am grateful not only for those who were kind and loving to me but also for those who hurt me; from a friend who was there for me in my hour of need, to a friend who wasn't there for me even after being called.

Although my first reaction was to despise the ones who hurt me, I realised upon reflection that they were teaching me something about myself. All my hurtful and painful experiences made me connect with my innate potential of managing myself and being independent. In a way, these people helped me discover my hidden qualities and stay integrated without labelling or judging their behaviour.

Express gratitude daily

One of the ways in which you can experience the beauty of gratitude is by practising it daily. As soon as you wake up in the morning, be grateful for the night that passed and the morning that is to come. Here are a few things you can do to include gratitude in your everyday life:

  1. Reflect for five minutes every day on the things that make you happy.
  2. Keep a ‘thanksgiving journal’ in which you can pen down the incidents for which you feel grateful.
  3. Send an email, text message, or handwritten letter to the person towards whom you feel grateful. Best could be making a call or meeting them if time and distance permits.

Do remember…

Most of the time, our memories tend to favour experiences and situations in which we felt good or in which people were good to us. However, it is easy to be grateful for the good times. I'd request you to look at the situations that seemed hurtful or awkward and then introspect on the changes that may have occurred in you after each situation. Once this is done, you will realise the shift the situation brought in for you to be a better person. This will allow you to experience the beauty of gratitude.

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