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Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/opinion/sunday/choose-to-be-grateful-it-will-make-you-happier.html

nytimes.com

Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier
In concept, saying you’re grateful even if you’re not seems bourgeois and saccharine. But it’s actually a tool to a better end.

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Gratitude raises our happiness

Gratitude raises our happiness

We don't have to feel grateful in order to give thanks. Acting grateful can make you grateful.

For many people, gratitude is difficult because life feels difficult. But we don't have to be a slave to our feelings or circumstance. We can actively choose to practice gratitude, and in doing that, our happiness will increase.

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Research on gratitude

Studies consistently show that the people practicing gratitude enjoy significantly greater life satisfaction than those who don't.

One explanation is that acting happy, regardless of feelings, encourages the brain into processing positive emotions. Gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a part that regulates stress), and the ventral tegmental area (a part that produces the sensation of pleasure.)

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Strategies for practicing gratitude

  • Start with interior gratitude - giving thanks privately. Then move to exterior gratitude, which focuses on public expression.
  • Regularly express gratitude in letters to loved ones and colleagues, thanking them for what they do.
  • Be grateful for the little things you experience, the smell of fall in the air, a song that brings back good memories.

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Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things —

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. 

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Philosophical roots of gratitude

Aristotle argued that we become what we habitually do. If we spend our days thinking of everything that has gone poorly and how dark our future appears, we can think ourselves into...

Religious roots of gratitude

  • In Judaism, the first words of the morning prayer could be translated, "I thank you."
  • From a Christian perspective, thanksgiving is vital. Jesus gives thanks before he shares his last meal with his disciples.
  • The 55th chapter of the Quran lists all the things humans have to be grateful for - the sun, moon, clouds, rain, air, grass, animals, plants, river, and oceans.
  • Hindu festivals celebrate blessings and offer thanks for them.
  • In Buddhism, gratitude develops patience and serves as an antidote to greed.

Gratitude as a way of life

One way to cultivate a disposition of gratitude is to give thanks regularly - at the beginning of the day, at meals, and at the end of the day.

Holidays, weeks, seasons, and years can be punctuated with thanks - grateful prayer, writing thank-you notes, and keeping a gratitude journal.

Thank You!

Being thankful and saying thanks to others is good for our health and happiness, and helps build trust.

Normally, the act of saying thanks is observed as a two-person exchange, the person ...

The Witness To Gratitude

Studies show that people who witness the act of gratitude get affected positively towards the grateful person as well as the person who is being thanked (benefactor).

They see the grateful person as someone who is kind, and who notices when other people do kind things and takes the time to acknowledge them, making them socially desirable. People also warm up towards the person that is receiving the gratitude, as it is signaled as a person who is effective at being supportive or helpful.

Saying Thanks More Often

Expressing more gratitude works, and more so if done in a demonstrative way, with a hug or flowers.

A sincere thanks benefit our social connections in the entire group or circle.