5 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Be Happier

gratitipositivityThis post is a follow-up to the lesson of gratitude that I learned from my friend, Carly, earlier this week.

I believe we can use our trying times to teach us the beauty and importance of gratitude, but how do we actually make ourselves feel grateful for the little things on a daily basis?

We can’t just “turn on” gratefulness. It’s something we develop over time. It’s a choice, and it’s a lifestyle. So, where do we start?

Here are 5 things you can start doing RIGHT NOW to be happier and fill your day with gratitude:

1. Write thank you letters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After every birthday party for my niece and nephews, my sister has the kids sit with her to write thank you cards for all of their gifts. I’m always surprised when I get these cards because very few people still take the time to send snail mail thank you notes. The kids are still so young that my sister has to write the cards for them, so last time I received one I told her not to worry anymore about sending one to me since I know how much time it takes away from her busy schedule.

She explained that it is really important to her that the kids keep doing them, regardless of the time it takes. She said, “I want the kids to see me writing these. I want them to learn that saying ‘thank you’ is important.” In an age with countless toys, games, parties and sweets, my sister wants to teach her kids to appreciate every bit of it.

Letters don’t have to come in response to an event or a gift, either. You can send a letter just to let someone know that you’re glad that they are in your life. People are so touched when they receive “for no reason” letters because they are acts of genuine appreciation and love.

2. When you get frustrated with people in your life, think about why they’re in your life to begin with.

 

What do they do that makes you grateful for them? Are they good listeners? Do they give good advice? Are they always up to hang out when you need them? Do you rarely talk to them, but when you do it feels like a safe place?

 

Inevitably the people in our lives will annoy us or upset us at some point, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stay grateful for them. Being grateful in times of frustration will help you move quickly through those tough moments.

 

3. Random acts of kindness.

 

I used to volunteer a lot when I was younger. Some of my favorite memories are from Habitat for Humanity trips that I did with my church. I still remember watching a young woman cut the ribbon on her first home. She was crying and smiling, overflowing with joy and gratitude. It was truly humbling to watch.

Volunteering is an incredible thing and will definitely make you appreciate the what you have, but not everyone has a schedule that allows them to consistently commit to volunteering. Instead, we can focus on the smaller things by performing random acts of kindness. Compliment a stranger. Wait a few extra moments at the door so you can hold it for someone. Make dinner for a friend or significant other. These small acts of kindness can have a great impact on your ability to be grateful and positive.

4. Be positive.

 

Always always always spread a positive vibe. Positivity is contagious but so is negativity. Choose wisely.

I’ve learned that if I can stop myself from complaining and force myself to move on to something positive, I feel MUCH better. Otherwise, the complaining leads me down a rabbit hole of pessimism and I’ll just keep looking for more reasons to back-up my complaints.

Being positive will make us feel better and make us more pleasant to be around. Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, including yourself.” So be the positive friend. Be the friend who builds people up. Be the friend that is always finding the good in life.

 

 

5. Make a list.

 

I sent a little mental exercise to my email subscribers this week that brought them through the motions of making a “gratitude list”. This might seem like overkill, but I promise you will feel better after your do it. Take a break from your day to step away from work and write down 5-10 things for which you are grateful. Think about what your life would be like without these things, and you will quickly realize just how important they are to you.

 

Why is gratitude so important?
 
Gratitude goes hand and hand with happiness. If we can’t appreciate the things we have, how can we be happy?

 

There has been a lot of research around this subject that validates its importance. One study by two psychologists (Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough) took place over the course of 10 weeks. Over this time they monitored 3 groups of people who wrote weekly updates in their journals. The first group wrote about things for which they were grateful, the second group wrote about things that annoyed them, and the third group wrote about things that happened during the week that impacted them in one way or another. The 10 weeks of data proved the first group to be much more optimistic about life than the other two groups. The “grateful group” was also sick less often and exercised more than the other groups.

 

Practicing gratitude can be tough if we aren’t actively writing things down, making lists in our head, etc. But if we start to drift into a negative mindset, we can reference one of these 5 tricks to help pull ourselves back out.

 

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