The one thing you can do to be happier right now
When it comes to happiness, the research is clear that grateful people are happy people. You may assume that if someone is happy, then of course they’re likely to feel grateful, but actually, we now know that the relationship also works in the opposite direction.
Research psychologists have found that actively working to increase your feelings of gratitude has fairly significant positive benefits for your mood in both the short and long term. In fact, there are loads of benefits to be gained from cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Here’s a quick overview of what we know so far. Grateful people:
- are better able to overcome stress and trauma
- are healthier and also more likely to look after their health
- tend to be more kind, generous and helpful to others
- are less materialistic (materialism is linked to unhappiness!)
- have more friends, deeper connections and stronger marriages
- suffer less from unhelpful social comparison
- experience less anxiety and depression.
So if you’re looking for a fairly simple mindset shift that has the potential to make a significant difference to your physical and psychological wellbeing, gratitude is where it’s at. Here are a few things you can do if you would like to work on increasing your attitude of gratitude:
- Keep a gratitude journal
Taking time out to write down what you are grateful for improves mood and wellbeing. You don’t have to do it daily and you don’t want it to become robotic or meaningless. Find what works best for you. The key is to really give some solid consideration to what you are grateful for in that moment, rather than just check off the same things every time.
- Silently acknowledge what you’re grateful for
If you’re feeling down or have suffered a setback, taking a moment to bring to mind the things in your life you feel grateful for can be the fastest way to turn your mood around. If you find yourself going down the path of making unhelpful self-comparisons or focusing heavily on things that are going wrong, simply remembering to appreciate all the good things in your life gives you an instant shift in perspective. And no matter how bad a day you might be having, there is always something to feel grateful for.
- Thank people!
One way to do this is to write a gratitude letter to someone you truly appreciate. It could be a friend or family member, an old teacher or manager. It might even be someone you don’t know personally, but who has had a positive influence on your life. Write a letter expressing your gratitude for what they’ve done for you. You don’t even have to send it, but just writing it down will boost your feelings of gratitude.
No time for a letter? Why not send someone a quick SMS or email. It will brighten their day and yours too! And remember to genuinely thank people as you go about your day, whether it’s the people closest to you or random strangers who serve you in stores, or work colleagues who make your day a little easier. It all counts!
Cassandra Dunn is our clinical and coaching psychologist. She’s available for client appointments on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
She’s also the expert psychologist for Tiffiny Hall’s online fitness program www.tiffxo.com and blogs for Thrive Global and The Huffington Post. You can find out more about Cass at her website: www.cassandradunn.com.au.