]I love Thanksgiving. It’s one day a year when many people pause and take stock of everything they have to be grateful for.
I’ve found that if I have to run to the supermarket to pick up Wondra for the gravy, all my interactions with others have a distinctive flavor to them that day. I think it’s because many shares in this attitude of gratitude. It’s a bit of magic.
With that in mind, I wanted to share a straightforward concept that can improve your awareness of gratitude and, as a result, raise your happiness quotient both at home and at work.
Develop Gratitude Awareness
I bet you have a lot of great and beautiful things going on to be grateful for in your life right now. The problem is you’re not taking the time to notice them. But, if you try to look for things to be grateful for and then write them down, your perceptions and attitude can change forever.
Let me illustrate with an analogy.
My commute home was the same route for many years. Then, one day, I noticed a giant water tower I had never seen before. A massive water tower! Once seeing it, I scratched my head thinking, “how could I have ever missed that!” It was always there. I didn’t see it. From that day on, I always noticed it.
You can do the same with gratitude.
Then, Make it a Habit
According to U.C. Davis Psychologist Robert Emmons, the author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, becoming aware of “things to be grateful for” is a habit you can develop by writing down “Five things you are grateful for” daily.
Emmons says you’ll quickly develop a “gratitude mindset” muscle within several weeks. And, like a muscle, the more you work at it, the stronger it will become. In short, you can start seeing things to be grateful for everywhere. You may start noticing your own “water towers” that, once recognized, you’ll never miss again.
Nothing to Buy
Emmons found that people who do this gratitude awareness development report being significantly happier after just three weeks. Like positive psychology pioneers Martin Seligman and Ed Diener, nearly all the prominent happiness researchers include gratitude as a primary building block to living a happy life.
What is also interesting about Emmon’s study is the only thing required to bring this happiness into your life is a slight change in perception. You don’t need to run out and get a new job, find a new partner, or buy some stuff. Instead, it would be best if you had a slight recalibration of how you view your current world.
Start This Thanksgiving!
So with Thanksgiving around the corner, perhaps now is an excellent time to try this practice. Take time to pause, look around, and see all that is there for you to experience gratitude. Then, write them down. If you do this, you’ll be surprised to see how much there is around you all the time, providing an opportunity to be grateful.
In a couple of weeks, you can list hundreds of gratitude opportunities. Once you start noticing them, amazingly, you’ll find yourself happier.
And happy people are more comfortable to be around. They are more productive. They have better, longer-lasting relationships. Yay science!
A Personal Note of Added Relevance
This past year I lost both my mother and father. We did not always have the best relations. And, because they were old, I knew that every conversation I had with them might be the last one.
I credit this attitude of gratitude to making those relationships as good as they could be. It became easier to let things go, live in the moment, and be glad they were alive. As a result, the last conversations I had with them were lovely. Gratitude was transformative for me.
So, if the job isn’t right, or the family isn’t perfect, don’t fret this Thanksgiving. Instead, be grateful, and you will soon notice everything will improve!