They say, gratitude is the single most effective way to create a happy life. It has been proven by science that regularly practicing gratitude is the key to improving overall well-being and happiness. Other than saying "Thank you" to those around you a little more often, there are some major tips and tricks to exercise gratitude for greater happiness in your life.
A quick and easy way to get a better start to your day is to begin a daily gratitude journal. All this involves is simply waking up, and before getting your day started, write down three things in life you are grateful for. This can be anything! An excerpt from my own personal gratitude journal includes: "I am grateful for my husband making us coffee every morning", "My great health and energy to exercise regularly", "This beautiful spring weather we are having today". So easy! If you are not a morning person, you can also try gratitude journaling at night before bed by acknowledging 3 amazing things that happened in your day. The Five Minute Journal is my personal favorite which includes both a morning and night practice. Gratitude journaling has literally changed my entire outlook on life. I find myself religiously opening up my journal every single day, even when it is difficult to find things to be grateful for, once I put the pen to paper I cannot stop writing and finding more things to be grateful for! The journal is so simple to use and literally only takes 5 minutes. I’ve never found something so simple yet can change your forecast on your day so drastically. From practicing this ritual, I’ve noticed that I have become a kinder more positive person to others and have a very happy start to most my days!
A Personal Letter of Gratitude
This one is tough, but the results are extraordinary. The founder of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman came up with this approach to exercise gratitude. The idea is, you are supposed to identify someone who has been instrumental in your life offering help or support, either for a short period of time or in a much bigger way. This individual should be someone who you may have never had the opportunity to truly thank. Then, after you have identified this person, you write a letter thanking them. This is not just a standard "thank you", it should really recognize what it is you are grateful for and share this in the most heartfelt way possible. After you have finished writing this letter, your challenge is to meet this individual in person (preferably) so that you can hand deliver your letter of gratitude and read it to them directly. It can provide both you and this person overwhelming emotions of gratitude for each other from the experience and the impact of expressing gratitude can last up to months and altering your wellbeing. To note, it is understandable that you may not be able deliver the letter in person, but if there is a way to still share your letter, you will still feel the incredible impact of sharing gratitude. I have only done this exercise a few times in my life, but I have found the practice to be intense, transformative, and absolutely wonderful.
A personal favorite of mine for those of you in the workplace. Want to be happier in your job? It might just be momentary, but love-bombing your job is so much fun. Is there someone on your team or in your office that you feel great appreciation for but maybe you've never recognized? Well, there's a way to actually show it!
Step 1: Identify a team member you want to share appreciation for.
Step 2: Get your team or a small group of colleagues together, excluding the person you are recognizing and secretly have them write things on individual post-it notes that they are grateful for or appreciate about that person you have nominated.
Step 3: Find a time when the person is out to lunch or in a meeting and cover their computer screen in the post-it notes with all the things people have written they are grateful for. The result is pure happiness!! When your coworker comes back to their computer and sees all the lovely things people appreciate about them, they will feel so appreciated and happy. Then you and the team can share in the happiness and surprise of expressing gratitude together.
During my days in HR, I used this tactic many times and the reactions from people were amazing. I would feel so happy from surprising a staff member and receiving their gratitude in return when they were shocked, smiling, laughing and grateful. Everyone involved feels the levity and fun of the surprise and it definitely makes the work day go by a little easier.