Why is it that a person who can seemingly have everything be miserable, while another who has very little be happy?
We all know someone who has all that it would take to be happy and yet are not. The friend who has so much, but constantly complains. The manager who is never satisfied no matter how great a job is done. Ourselves when we get the thing we wanted for so long, only to grow tired of it days later.
“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”– Brother David Steindl-Rast
The secret is gratefulness. As Brother David Steindl-Rast, a monk and scholar, said in his TED Talk that now has over 2.6 million views, “It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”
Science backs this up. Psychologist Robert Emmons, who has spent his life researching gratitude, found that gratitude improves overall health and well-being, reduces stress, improves immune function, increases self-esteem, and boots overall happiness.
The key is putting gratitude into practice. Here are seven tools that I’ve found to have the greatest impact:
- Gratitude Journal – Keep a gratitude journal where each morning you list three things you’re grateful for.
- Dinner Table Thanks – At dinner just before you eat, go around the table and have each person share one thing they’re grateful for.
- Gratitude Friday – Block out time every Friday on your calendar to reflect on what your team and co-workers are doing well. Then send them an award, thank you email, or thank them in person the next time you talk to them.
- Thank You Cards – Send a handwritten thank you card or an online card using http://www.kudoboard.com.
- Gratitude Text – Show your gratitude with a short text. It’s quick, easy, and will not only brighten up someone’s day but yours as well.
- Awesome Jar – Create an Awesome Jar by decorating a mason jar and writing down on a small slip of paper one awesome thing that happened recently or that you’re grateful for. Then review the filled-out slips every so often with your family or team.
- Weekly Award – Create a team or family award where the award holder recognizes one person on the team or in your family each week. The new award recipient then recognizes someone the following week and so on.
The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything they have by practicing gratitude.
How will you put gratitude into practice?