How Thinking Gratefully Creates Happiness

If you could easily add happiness to your life, would you? Many people acknowledge that, when they participate in random acts of kindness or do good toward others, they feel good themselves. Helping others is one way to increase personal happiness. Another way is through grateful thinking.

Regularly participating in grateful thinking could increase your happiness by as much as 25 percent. According to Dr. Robert Emmons, editor in chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology and author of “Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” you can improve your sleep and energy levels simply by keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks. Through his research, he found that intentional gratitude could improve psychological, physical, and interpersonal aspects of your life. So how can you increase grateful thinking?

Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to start reshaping your attitude. And it’s easy to do — simply write down three to five things you are thankful for each day. It helps you focus on positive thoughts and reminds you of the blessings in your life. How about starting a blessings jar? Every day, add a slip of paper with a blessing you experienced. At the end of the month or year, open up the jar and read all the slips; you’ll remember all the wonderful things happening in your life. Dr. Emmons suggests that gratefulness means becoming aware of and consciously remembering the contributions others have made on our behalf. Using a gratitude journal or blessings jar is a great way to promote that kind of thinking.

In my own life, I’ve noticed a change in my feelings and actions when I focus on gratitude. I’ve kept a gratitude journal a few times, and I feel it’s extremely beneficial. When you change your thoughts, you can change your feelings. Now and then, I stop and listen to the way I’m thinking about day-to-day life. Am I thinking gratefully, or am I focused on the negative? It’s a powerful exercise and helps me focus on the positive.

So what’s holding you back? Start thinking thoughts of gratitude and helping others today. In “The Healing Power of Doing Good,” Allan Luks shares his research on how doing good may diminish physical or chronic pain. He believes that, when you care for others, you are also caring for yourself. There is now scientific research to back up the notion that doing good brings good results back to you.

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