This time of year is all about saying “thanks” and expressing our gratitude for all that we have. But did you know that gratitude is directly related to happiness?
Recently, my fabulous, almost 90-year-old grandma expressed her gratitude in such an amazing way. She was telling me sad stories about her friends—their various ailments, illnesses, sick spouses and family members. As she and her friends get older, she told me, the more she has realized that if everyone threw their keys into a bowl and could pick randomly to have different life experiences, she’d still choose to take her own key back.
It was so nice to hear her say how grateful she is for her life and that looking back, she wouldn’t change a thing.
It’s really a simple equation—the more grateful you are, the happier you will be.
Having a positive outlook on life helps you with truly feeling grateful. But just saying you are grateful isn’t enough—you truly have to feel it. That’s when the magic happens. So how do you make sure you really feel it?
· Focus on what you’ve got, not what you lack.
Concentrating on what you don’t have only brings you down and the more you focus on it, the more of it you will get… for some reason that’s just how life works. If you feel your life isn’t where you want it to be, the more you focus on gratitude, the easier and faster your ideal life will manifest. An example: instead of focusing on how you don’t have your ideal romantic relationship, focus on how grateful you are for the fact that you have had past relationships (good and bad) and everything you learned from having those relationships. Also, focus on how grateful you are for the love you DO have in your life from family and friends.
Try this exercise: Close your eyes and think about the person you love the most—a child, sibling, a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, friend— that is already in your life. Take note of how that feels… really feel it and imagine how that person fills your heart with love. Do this for 1-3 minutes per day and you will see that more doors will open because as you feel grateful for the love you already have, the love that you desire will enter your life. It’s the law of attraction which means it has to happen—it’s a law…. it’s also quite magical!
· Write it down
Challenge yourself for one week to write down one thing that you’re grateful for per day. It could be as simple as saying thank you for the air you’re breathing or the fact that you have your sight and your health. Or it could be the fact that there wasn’t a lot of traffic on your commute to work, your kids ate all their vegetables at dinner or you had a night out with friends.
· Give back
If you’re not feeling particularly thankful for whatever reason, the simple act of doing something philanthropic brings joy to your heart and helps you feel gratitude for the life you DO have.
· Be present in the moment.
What’s happening right now is all that truly matters—don’t dwell on the past or worry about what might happen tomorrow. Be grateful to be alive and experiencing this moment. The more you focus on what is happening right in front of your eyes, the more reasons to feel grateful will find their way to you.
Just remember, gratitude is not something that happens to you, it’s a conscious choice only you can make. So this Thanksgiving season and all year long, remember this simple recipe: to find happiness, just fill yourself up with a healthy helping of gratitude… and some sweet potatoes!