It’s not happiness that makes us grateful; it’s gratitude that makes us happy

Many of us spend our lives chasing after happiness – searching for the people, jobs, possessions that will lead us to contentment. After we get there, or get enough of those things lined up, we’ll have all the time in the world to be grateful, right?

Nope, we’ve got the relationship between happiness and gratitude backwards! We all know people who appear to have everything and yet they are not happy (think Kanye or the big DT – ex prez), and we all know people who have misfortune that we ourselves would not want to have, and they are deeply happy, because they are grateful.

So it’s not happiness that makes us grateful, it’s gratefulness that makes us happy. The key is discovering the practices that increase the gratitude in your life. Here are some suggestions you might want to try –

  1. In your daily transactions with baristas, cashiers and others, take the time to look them directly in the eye and really thank them. Get off your phone (unless you have to pay with it), and when you tap that card, make eye contact, smile and give a heartfelt thanks. That little moment of connection is so important to both people’s humanity and happiness.
  2. Start a gratitude jar. Any time you experience a poignant moment of gratitude, write it on a piece of paper, put it in the jar and then at New Year, empty the jar and review what you have written.
  3. Take a photo every day of something you’re thankful for. Take photos of sights that stir your gratitude – the colour pink, weeds blowing in the wind, your favourite tree, your kids laughing.
  4. Write 3 things down each day for a week that you are grateful for and don’t forget to spread the happiness!
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