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How Living a Life of Gratitude Makes You Happy

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart

How living a life of gratitude makes you happy.

Most days, I try to hold a 2-minute gratitude session. I simply sit or kneel, with no distractions, close my eyes, and think about what I’m grateful for and who I’m grateful for.

I don’t do it every day, but let me tell you, on the days I do it, it makes me very happy. Why should that be? Why should the simple act of thinking about who and what I’m grateful for make such a big difference in my life?

Just a few reasons:

  • Because it reminds you of the positive things in your life. It makes you happy about the people in your life, whether they’re loved ones or just a stranger you met who was kind to you in some way.
  • Because it turns bad things into good things. Having problems at dance? Be grateful you can dance. Be grateful you have challenges, and that life isn’t boring. Be grateful that you can learn from these challenges. Be thankful they make you a stronger person.
  • Because it reminds you of what’s important. It’s hard to complain about the little things when you give thanks that you are alive and healthy. It’s hard to get stressed out over not getting that step of your treble jig down when you are grateful you have the opportunity to dance in the first place.
  • Because it reminds you to thank others. I’ll talk about this more below, but the simple act of saying “thank you” to someone can make a big difference in that person’s life. Calling them, emailing them, stopping by to say thank you … just taking that minute out of your life to tell them why you are grateful toward them is important to them. People like being appreciated for who they are and what they do. It costs you little, but makes someone else happy. And making someone else happy will make you happy.

What do I give thanks for in my little gratitude session?
It changes from day to day. I thank my loved ones, for all they do for me. I thank strangers who’ve shown me little acts of kindness. I thank God, for the life he’s given me. I thank people around the world for the things they’ve done to make the world better. I thank myself, for things that I’ve been able to do (it’s important to recognize your own accomplishments). I thank my amazing Irish dance teacher, for the encouragement  he has given me,  for the time he has given me, for the example of love and kindness he shows me through his interaction with other dancers.

How to Live a Life of Gratitude
The thing is, simple acts of gratitude don’t cost you much (especially once you get over the initial discomfort some people feel with thanking others). But they can make a huge difference.

If you’re interested in living a life of gratitude, here are my suggestions:

  • Morning gratitude session. Take 2-3 minutes each morning to give thanks, to whoever or whatever you’re grateful for. You don’t have to do anything, other than close your eyes and silently give thanks. This one act can make a huge difference.
  • Say thank you. When someone does something nice for you, however small, try to remember to say thank you. And really mean it.
  • Call to say thanks. Sometimes you might think about something nice that someone did for you. Perhaps you remember during your gratitude session. When you do, pick up the phone and call the person, just to say thanks. Let them know what they did that you’re grateful for, and why you appreciate it. It only takes a minute or two. If it’s too early to call, make a note to call later. Even better is telling them in person, if you happen to see them. Almost as good is a thank-you email — keep it short and sweet.
  • Give thanks for “negative” things in your life. There are always two ways to look at something. Many times we think of something as negative — it’s stressful, harmful, sad, unfortunate, difficult. But that same thing can be looked at in a more positive way. Giving thanks for those things is a great way to remind yourself that there is good in just about everything. Problems can be seen as opportunities to grow, to be creative.

Let me leave you with a thought on gratitude that I’ve always found … well, perfect:

Be Thankful
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown ~

Happy dancing!

Brooke