Making a gratitude list can bring hope back to your life, alter your perspective, and increase your happiness. By building a daily list of what you are grateful for, you can start changing those negative thoughts into meaningful happiness. Within 30 days, you can change how you view the world around you and start focusing on what you have, not what you don't have.
Many social experiments like Pay It Forward and Random Acts of Kindness Day show that when people change their focus, their outlook on life changes. So, it’s not surprising to see the results that making a gratitude list can bring. And, the power of this exercise has been around for a while. Anyone attending 12-step fellowships will tell you that they’ve been told by their sponsor to write a gratitude list when negativity seems to overwhelm their outlook.
So, as a teacher of this practice, I’m telling you to make this part of your daily routine. You may already practice smiling, meditation and exercise to improve your happiness, but if you track your levels while listing your daily gratitude, and your hope and happiness will improve.
Need More Proof?
The Science of Happiness is a growing area of study that shows us the many ways our happiness levels are affected and how we can change them. In fact, a quick google search reveals that there are many courses, books, blogs, websites and videos on the topic.
One of the videos is an Experiment in Gratitude which outlines the scientific data supporting this theory and designs an experiment to test this. The experiment starts with subjects taking a brief which is intended to reveal their level of happiness. Then, they are asked to write about a person that has influenced them greatly. This is followed by an awkward phone call to that person and ends by revealing some surprising results. I’ll let you discover those for yourself; and the video will make you smile! ☺️
Another wonderful video is Shawn Achor’s TED talk. He will make you laugh with his delivery and he is very entertaining, but most of all he makes some very good points about gratitude and happiness. He also links happiness to productivity at work, but I feel that our most important daily work is with ourselves which inherently transfers itself to our work. Shawn spent over 10 years at Harvard developing his theories on happiness. (Without realizing it, Laura May has been advocating the same exercises in her coaching practice). Recently, Shawn was interviewed by CBC News. His number one exercise for happiness is a gratitude list.
What to do?
As a personal growth advocate, I highly value this expert advice and encourage everyone to practice gratitude. And I’m not just talking about saying thank you to those people around you; I’m asking you to write at least 3 things each day for which you are grateful. Over a 30 day period, try not to have any repeats, and keep it simple. A good refreshing glass of water will bring about a feeling of gratitude the same as shared laughter with your child. The point is not what you are grateful for but that you are grateful. So listing water, shelter and sunshine when you can’t think of anything else is not a bad idea. The point is to do it. Eventually, happiness will come back into your life.
Don’t do it alone
The best way to do this challenge is to do it with others. Make it a family project; use sticky notes and cover the walls with your gratitude list. Spend some time as a family and illustrate your gratitude; decorate your fridge everyday with these illustrations. Share the challenge with others on Facebook or Twitter. The possibilities don’t just end there.
Please comment on this blog. I’d love to hear who took up the challenge, who will take up the challenge and how it went. Did your happiness improve? What does gratitude do for you? What surprised you about this exercise?
guest blog submitted by Leo Corrigan, a local personal growth advocate