Grateful people are more fun! No one likes a complainer, and everyone loves an upbeat, optimistic person. Perhaps that’s why scientific studies have proven that people who practice gratitude in their daily lives are happier, healthier, and more successful in their relationships and at work.
According to a study reported in Fast Company magazine, “Gratitude can become a way of life, and by developing the simple habit of counting our blessings, we can enhance the degree to which we are truly blessed.”
I don’t think you can be truly happy without incorporating gratitude into your life. It’s the most important key to happiness that I know.
The wonderful thing about counting your blessings and practicing gratitude is that you don’t have to be born with that tendency; you can learn how to be a thankful person and enjoy all the emotional benefits of gratitude. It only takes a little practice to make it a regular part of your outlook – a daily habit.
There are lots of ways to cultivate a gratitude habit, but we find that the easiest and most productive method is to make a gratitude list every day. That is a winning strategy we’ve read about in hundreds of Chicken Soup for the Soul stories.
Eve Turek, for example, started writing a gratitude list after a friend got tired of hearing all her complaints about what was going on in her life. Eve’s family had been going through a difficult time and there had been tons of drama.
Her friend said, “You already know all that is going wrong in your family life right now. I promise you there is still beauty around you that you never notice. Doing a nightly gratitude list will help you find that beauty again.”
Eve’s friend told her to get a small notebook, the kind used for writing grocery lists or daily tasks. She told her to number each page from 1–10, and then write down 10 things she was grateful for each day. And she couldn’t write the same things every day – it had to be 10 new things that happened that day or things that Eve viewed as being good in her life.
Every night Eve wrote down 10 things she was thankful for. Sometimes it was hard to come up with that number of items. But Eve took her friend’s advice on that, too. She didn’t have to write down big momentous items; she could write down little things like finding a pretty bird feather on the ground or getting a nice hug from her grandson.
According to her, this new gratitude practice was life changing. It refocused her, as soon as she started each day, on what was good in her life. Eve says, “Looking for gratitude-list items became a quest that took me through the hours of each day as I wondered, What will I find to give thanks for tonight?”
She says that more than 17 years have passed since her first gratitude list. And her daily gratitude habit is still working for her.
You don’t even have to work as hard as Eve did. You can write down three things each day on your gratitude list, or even one thing! One of our other writers, Jennifer Quasha, turned herself from a self-described pessimist into an optimist by writing one single thing for which she was grateful each day.
Just one thing!
Some days it was something like, “My husband came home from work early,” or, “I got a parking space right in front when I was running late.”
You can count the big things – family, friends, financial security, health insurance… or the little things – a sunny day, birdsong, milk for your coffee… What matters is that you change your perspective: from what you lack to what you have.
Do you have a minute to write a gratitude list each night? What do you think about focusing on what you have instead of what you lack? Do you have a friend or family member who could benefit from a gratitude practice?
Tags Being Grateful