Season of Gratitude

Gratitude helps us feel satisfied with what we have rather than chasing falsehood that don't bring us joy. Here are a few ways to shift your focus toward gratitude and happiness in the year to come.

As we begin to let go of the weight of this past year, it’s important to be proactive about how we cultivate happiness going forward. Cutting out falsehoods we once believed to be the source of our joy and replacing that with the goodness we already have is imperative to our true happiness.

In an article from Harvard Health Publishing, we see that the word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness, depending on context. Gratitude is expressing appreciation for what an individual receives and the acknowledgement of the positives in one’s life – typically connecting them to other people, nature, or a higher power. Studies show that gratitude is greatly and consistently associated with significant happiness, helping people feel more positive emotions, embracing good experiences, improving health, and the ability to deal with adversity.

Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania divided university fundraisers at random into two groups. Group one solicitated alumni donations as normal. On a different day, the Director of Annual Giving told group two that she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, 50% more fund-raising calls were made by group two, who received her message of gratitude, than the group who did not.

Gratitude helps us feel satisfied with what we have rather than chasing the hope of something that will leave us feeling empty. Here are a few ways to shift your focus toward gratitude and happiness in the year to come:

Write a thank-you note.

Nurturing relationships is sometimes as easy as writing a letter of thankfulness to a person for the positive impact they’ve had in your life.

Keep a gratitude journal and count your blessings.

Routinely taking note of what influences your happiness is a great way to keep track of the abundance of good that surrounds you. Take time daily or weekly to reflect on what went right, keeping record of the sensations you felt when the good thing(s) happened to you.

Prayer and meditation.

Mindfulness of the present moment is a great way to cultivate gratitude. Religious people can use prayer as that time to focus on the good without judgement. Others may focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”). Remaining open and aware of how small details, like the warmth of the sun or a perfect cup of coffee, impact your mood is a great way to feel full.

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