Everyone loves a heaping helping of gratitude in his or her life. Whether it’s a thank you received after making a great meal for dear friends, or receiving the seemingly awkward hug from a coworker for a job well done, or just the simple murmur of a thank you from a child, all forms of gratitude—big or small, given or received—make us all a tad bit happier and—surprisingly—healthier. So how does that work?
As multisensory creatures obsessed with brightening our states of mind, it’s astonishing how many of us look outside of ourselves for mood enhancement instead of leveraging gratitude as the best, most viable, most abundantly available and free natural resource. The “happiness high” we all search for can be experienced 24/7 by constantly (not sporadically) operating from an active state of gratitude.
Here’s a quick test for you. The next time you are feeling down, depressed, upset, or just plain old out of sorts, start a gratitude journal and make a list of everything you are grateful for in your life, in your work, and in your relationships and watch how your heart and mind positively respond to the gratitude you are expressing by instantly enhancing your mood.
Every time you thank someone, send a thank you note or share an act of kindness from the heart without expecting anything in return you are fueling your own emotional well being. These small moments are what I think of self-induced “happy pills” of gratitude.
So when you need a “hit” of happiness, try showing someone else even just a little squib of gratitude, or take a moment to note to yourself some small thing for which you are grateful. Every time, I promise, you will feel happier, calmer, and a bit more positive about your day. Over time, with daily practice, this conscious approach will improve your overall sense of well being. And the best part of it all is gratitude and the mood enhancement doesn’t only impact you but spreads instantly to those around you. In effect, a chain reaction occurs and in time every ones mood improves a bit, right alongside yours. Happily, gratitude is one of the world’s most contagious conditions!
One thing to remember: There are no short cuts when it comes to the good that comes out of gratitude. In order to sustain a happy mood and improved mental and physical health, gratitude needs to be practiced as a daily ritual.
This Thanksgiving—as you celebrate that one big day of gratitude—try to carry it into the day after Thanksgiving and then the day after that, heading straight into 2013 in a blissful state of gratitude. Watch how your well being and worldview naturally improves and gratitude becomes the best habit you ever developed.