Sunday, May 22, 2016 7:18:58 PM Australia/Sydney

How To Increase Your Happiness With Gratitude

If you want to learn how to actively be grateful for what you have and make that a habit, join the club. Everybody on the planet wants to be happy. The problem is that most of us go about it the wrong way.

We chase after money, status, fame and material things, only to find that when it all comes out in the wash nothing of this world causes lasting happiness.

You’ve probably also heard that true happiness is inside you. “Blah blah”, right? If you’ve struggled to stay positive all your life, this information may even make you feel a little angry.

This is because despite what the self-help books tell us, it’s really hard to stay positive. Our brains are genetically wired to focus on what is wrong, so it takes some time and effort to turn that around.

Happiness studies have shown that practising gratitude on a daily basis is one of the best ways to reprogram your mind to be happier. Research has also shown that positive emotions create many benefits for us. They energise us, they strengthen our immune system and they counteract depression and anxiety.

When you’re feeling positive you’re more able to recover from stressful experiences. You’re much more inclined to connect with others when your mood is lifted, and you’re much more likely to have positive interactions with other people when you’re feeling good as opposed to when you’re feeling grumpy.

There are a million articles out there that show you how to be grateful. I’m not going to focus on the ‘how to’ in this article. Instead I’m going to point out the two biggest blocks to being grateful and happy.


Attachment to Being Self-Reliant

Things that block your sense of gratitude

Many of us think we have it all together. Some people even cling to self-reliance like a badge of honour. Self-reliance isn’t necessarily a bad thing; after all, nobody wants to come across as needy.

Yet there are times when it is appropriate for you to lean on others and accept their help and vice versa. Think about how good it feels to be able to help someone in need. Perhaps you’ve lent a sympathetic ear to a friend who was going through some inner turmoil.

Or maybe you donated some food to a person in need. Generosity and gratitude go hand in hand, so when you are generous with your time, money or possessions you will inevitably experience more happiness, contentment and joy in your life.

Imagine now, if each time you tried to help another person they refused your help? When you insist on being totally self-reliant to such a degree that you don’t allow others to give to you, you are denying other people the opportunity to practise generosity, and in turn to experience happiness. In the process you are also blocking your own ability to feel grateful.

So the next time you feel tempted to just go it alone, remember; the cycle of giving are receiving is a two way street. It makes us happy to give to others.


(The music in this clip is by Longzijun)



A Sense Of Entitlement

Have you ever gotten used to a particular circumstance or lifestyle and then suddenly had it ripped away from you? Sure you have. This is the nature of life; everything changes and anything can happen at any time.

Yet when we lose what we hold dear, we often feel angry, as if because we had it before we have the right to have it forever.

The same deal goes when we’re trying to be grateful. You may feel annoyed or upset that you haven’t achieved a specific goal in life, such that you’re unable to see what you have to be grateful for right now.

Think of all the things we take for granted; our health, our loved ones, our pets. We gloss over the many blessings we have right now as though these things were just a given. But they’re not. Nothing is, and if you forget what’s right under your nose then being grateful (and in turn experiencing more joy and happiness) will be nearly impossible.

Here’s how to be grateful for what you have: make a commitment each day to focus on just three things to be grateful for. I guarantee that once your mind starts flowing, you will be able to think of three new things each day. As you do this, you will slowly but surely reprogram your mind for happiness.

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