Grateful = Happy
Let me say right up front that what I am writing about is straight out of Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book on happiness. In her book she writes about 12 activities that are strongly supported by scientific evidence to boost happiness (although I suspect all our grandmothers knew it already). The first is the practice of gratitude. According to Dr. Lyubomirsky gratitude is “…wonder; it is appreciation; it is looking at the bright side of a setback; it is fathoming abundance; it is thanking someone in your life; it is thanking God; it is counting blessings. It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is coping; it is present-oriented.” If that is not enough to persuade one to develop this practice she offers eight benefits of practicing gratitude:
- It promotes the experience of savoring life. It enables a person to feel the maximum satisfaction from the present.
- It boosts self-worth. Focusing on what others have done for you and the good things that have happened in your life will increase confidence and a sense of being able to make an impact.
- It helps people cope with stress and trauma. It brings balance and hope when pain will try to pull you into the idea that there is nothing else.
- It encourages moral living. You will be more likely to help others and less materialistic.
- It strengthens relationships and builds social networks. You will feel more connected.
- It reduces envy and self-critical comparisons to others. If you are thankful for what you have you won’t wish for something else as much.
- It will reduce negative emotions like anger, bitterness and greed.
- It will thwart boredom and getting into a rut.
Dr. Lyubomirsky has listed specific steps to develop this practice in her book. I recommend you read her book. As it turns out, happiness may not just drop out of the sky on us (Bummer). Good thing we can do things to go and get it.
Anxiety has a lot of gravity and will pull you toward thinking about it all the time. Gratitude can be one step in the process of overcoming anxiety and certainly the thought that it is ruining your life!