Ever catch yourself thinking “If I could only have ________, I would be happy”?
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I catch myself thinking that all the time. And it takes effort to remind myself that my true happiness can never be dependent on one item, one event, or even one person.
But it can be dependent on one action: appreciation.
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Research has shown time and again that appreciation (or gratitude) is the one consistent path to happiness. And it doesn’t cost a thing.
The concept is simple – take the time to be thankful for the things that you have, and stop looking at the things you don’t. In reality though, this is much harder to accomplish.
After all, ‘thankfulness’ is an abstract concept. It’s a feeling. How can we make ourselves feel something we don’t?
By turning it into an action, that’s how. Practice these actions, and gratitude and happiness will naturally follow!
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Say “Thank you”..to yourself.
If you’re like me, you say “Thank you” all the time. To waiters, Uber drivers, the person who lends you a pen. It’s a good thing to do, and it’s basic good manners.
But few people take the time to thank themselves. It seems silly, but it’s not. We are faced with choices each day, and when we make good ones, they should be appreciated…even if it’s by our own selves.
Made a healthy food choice? “Thank you for taking steps to keep my body healthy”. Went to bed early to get enough sleep? “Thank you for re-energizing me for a busy day ahead”.
It’s simple, but effective!
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Add a silver lining
Complaining is addictive. It feels good to vent – and sometimes, it can be a good thing to let negativity out instead of bottling it up. However, constant complaining can cause you to focus on the bad side of things, and worsen feelings of dissatisfaction.
If you catch yourself complaining all the time and can’t seem to stop, try adding something positive at the end of each complaint. A ‘silver lining’, if you will. This can keep you grounded in the fact that it’s not all bad, and there are still things to appreciate and be thankful for.
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Do a daily positive recap
This one is simple – take the time to reflect on the day you’ve had, and pick things to be grateful for. Try to pick different things daily, and if possible, pick things that are unique to the day you had.
You can also try to be as specific as possible – for example, instead of choosing to be grateful for “Health”, you could choose to be grateful for your healthy legs that allowed you to walk to work that day. Or perhaps healthy ears that allowed you to hear your favourite song on the radio.
Over time, you will have accumulated a multitude of things to be appreciative of!
Image source: Grace Belgravia
Make a gratitude display
Making a conscious effort to be thankful is always good. However, you can also trigger more spontaneous feelings of gratitude by creating a gratitude display! It can be anything – pictures, words, post-it notes, ticket stubs..anything that can represent the things in your life you are thankful for.
Then, put your display in a place you will be able to see it every day – on your bedroom wall, bathroom mirror, computer desktop, or office cork board. Every time you catch sight of the display, you will be reminded of the things you appreciate – and that is happiness itself!
Don’t forget to continuously update the display as well, so it doesn’t start to blend into the background.
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So Grazers, it’s a new year, and it’s time for a happier you! So join us on our journey of appreciation this Chinese New Year, where we’re all about treasuring the things in life that truly matter…and becoming happier in the process!