There’s one way to be immediately happier, but it’s so simple that many people don’t trust that it works. It does. Show gratitude – it’s as easy as that.
My jaw dropped as my best friend switched from nodding and agreeing with me to … well, to having enough.
“All I’ve heard you do for the past half hour is complain about the situation. Clearly, it has you totally worked up, but enough is enough. Do what you always tell me to do – focus on the positive, speak life and peace into it, and, for heaven’s sake, Marie, be grateful!”
Let me start by saying that I am totally grateful for friends who will grab me by my ear (figuratively, I hope) and drag me to where I should be.
Life can be so incredibly frustrating! You have things in your life that make you crazy, don’t you? Certainly I do. Life just doesn’t work the way we want it to – too little money, too many health problems, people who are cruel and mean, lazy coworkers – the list goes on and on.
And the plain truth is that most of us find it very easy to voice our opinion when we’re frustrated.
In fact, sometimes we have difficulty stopping!
But how often do we take the time – in the middle of feeling frustrated and angry – to express our gratitude?
Sounds crazy, but hear me out.
Showing your gratitude means being thankful and appreciative of something or someone.
You may be annoyed that your husband rarely helps with the dishes at night, but you love the way he always puts the kids to bed. Which one do you focus on the most? Instead of badgering him about helping with the dishes, express how grateful you are that he takes over the bedtime routines.
You’re not happy with your life and wish it were better? The car’s getting old and looks like maybe the rust is holding it together? The roof is leaking and you’re going to need a roof repair? You could sit and mope and complain but that’s not going to get you too far.
Instead consider the fact that the car is still running, and still getting you to and from work. Be grateful for that, and focus on how happy you are that it’s still holding together. Be grateful that you do have a roof over your head and leaks can be fixed.
No matter what is going on in your head, that car is getting old and the roof needs to be fixed. If you’re miserable and complaining, magical car and roof fairies aren’t going to suddenly appear and fix everything.
“But, Marie, if I’m all rainbows and pink unicorns, they won’t appear, either!”
You got me.
Your husband won’t start doing the dishes, the car won’t become ten years younger, and the roof certainly won’t patch itself.
But you’ll feel a lot better, which will help you deal with it better. You’ll be happier. AND – this is the funny thing, you’ll start to notice good things around you, respond to them in a positive way, and better things will appear.
In other words you want to stop focusing on those things you don’t have and concentrate on what you do have.
If you have a loving partner or kids that are doing fantastic in school, show them how grateful and thankful you are.
Is your family healthy and happy? You’re blessed.
Readers have heard us describe our home. I love it. Four bedrooms, two bathrooms … you’ll only hear me tell you about how wonderful it, and it really is.
What you won’t hear (often) is me complaining about the leaky roof, the drafty basement, the rotten windows. When you buy an old house, there are going to be issues. I can either focus on the many problems or I can love this home and be grateful that we have a large, beautiful home. My children will grow up remembering the happiness of our home more than the plastic on our windows.
Any relationship can be improved by displaying your gratitude for each other.
Autism is an every day reality in our home. EJ has a diagnosis, as does one of our sons. We have learned that gratitude, especially for small things, is the glue that keeps our relationship strong through the difficulties. Imagine living with people who can’t read facial expressions accurately or who don’t pick up hints and social cues? How about loving someone who is easily overwhelmed by physical touch or noise?
If we focused on the problems, our family would fall apart.
It is important to focus on what you have right now, and appreciate it completely.
When you do you will notice that it is easy to find additional things that you are grateful for. Plus what person doesn’t like to be appreciated?
Think about the last time someone thanked you unexpectedly? It felt good, didn’t it?
It’s not that you suddenly have to get all gushy. Just thank your spouse for supporting you, thank your children for being who they are and enjoy the time with your family.
One of my Facebook friends posts a list of things she’s grateful for every day, and she includes pictures. It’s a wonderful thing to see every morning when I sit down to start my day. (Yes, thank you, Jane. You’re doing it for you, but it lifts the spirits of everyone who reads it each day!)
Here’s a few things you could try today:
- Write down two things that you are grateful for.
- Thank your child for telling you about her day.
- Tell one family member that you appreciate being in their life.
- Call a friend who means a lot to you and tell him that his friendship is important.
- Thank your stay-at-home spouse for caring enough to provide a safe and clean home.
- Thank your working spouse for the sacrifices made to provide an income for the family.
- Demonstrate your appreciation in some way. Buy someone a cup of coffee or send a quick thank you note, text message or email.
If you are having trouble displaying your gratitude then simply write down all the things you are grateful for. Think about what others do for you, what qualities someone you appreciate has and more. Once you have identified these you will find it easier to find more things.
You’d be amazed how good it is for you to say – and others to hear – simple words like thank you and I appreciate you.
And with that said – thank you for reading my writings. I truly appreciate each and every one of you. Those who come to the Facebook page and take part in conversations become recognized and cherished names, but I am also grateful for all of you who come here, read posts, and never take part in conversations.0