Is it gratitude that makes you happy? Or does happiness create gratitude? It’s probably not a concept you’ve given much thought to. You just know that when you’re happy, you’re happy, and when you’re not, you’re not. But how does gratitude factor into the equation?
According to research from UC Davis Professor Robert Emmons Ph.D., people who practice gratitude are 25% happier than those who don’t. That means that if you’re feeling like the whole world is against you, leaning on gratitude could be the one thing that will turn that frown upside down.
If you’re looking for ways to remain thankful for what you have when it feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some of our thoughts.
It’s the little things.
Oftentimes when you’re faced with challenges, it feels like there’s absolutely nothing to be grateful for. But if you look around, there are tons of little things that we take for granted daily! A good cup of coffee, a comfy chair, a pretty sunset … when you’ve run out of hope, lean into the simple joys like these as much as you can.
In the end, those little things actually aren’t so little. In fact, our lives are completely made up of little things stitched together to make the big things possible. Learn to appreciate the mundane and stop and smell the roses in both good and bad times (and if you need help with that, read this article!). Remember, there’s always something to be grateful for, even if some days you have to look a little harder to find it.
Challenge: Make a list throughout the day of everything you’re grateful for, big and small.
How many times a day do you say, “I’m tired”? Or how about, “I want to go home” or “I’m starving”? The point of these questions was not to make you feel attacked, but simply to prove that we complain a lot throughout the day. And it’s hard to be grateful for what you have when you’re constantly thinking about what you want, but don’t have.
Complaining is second nature for most of us, but guess what? It doesn’t have to be! Here’s how to break this habit:
– Be mindful. When you feel yourself starting to complain, catch yourself.
– Take a step back and look at the big picture.
– Find the positives (notice how this one keeps coming up? 😉).
If you’re looking for things to complain about, you’ll always be able to find them. And that can make your hard times feel even worse. By talking about your joys rather than your struggles, you’ll find more positivity in your life.
Challenge: Go the whole day without complaining (you can do it!).
Nobody’s perfect (and no life is, either).
We get so caught up in what we “should” be doing. I “should” be able to graduate early. Or I “should” have a better job. I “should” be further ahead in life than I am right now. We place expectations on ourselves, and sometimes we do live up to them (yay!). However, there are other times when we fall short. Is that the end of the world? Nope. But we definitely make it feel that way.
By worrying about the things that aren’t happening, we’re missing out on the good things that are happening. Show gratitude for where you are, even if it’s not where you expected to be. After all, that’s just life … and it rarely goes according to plan!
Challenge: Go with the flow—and enjoy your life! Don’t let minor inconveniences ruin your day.
Hard times happen, but they’re even harder if you lose sight of what you’re grateful for. Take this as your final challenge: Find something good in every day—even if you forgot your coffee, slept through your alarm, you were late to a meeting, you’re struggling emotionally or physically, or both. There is always something good if you search for it. This, alone, will help you find the light at the end of the tunnel.