Gratitude is the number one indicator of people I like. Really. Looking back at all of my relationships, the people I am the closest with are the ones who are the most grateful. It causes me to pause and ask myself two things:
- Am I the type of person I want to be friends with?
- Why? Why are the people I connect with the ones who are the most grateful?
Interestingly, these people also are great performers. They perform professionally, emotionally, socially, physically, and with family. They succeed because they learn and grow.
Success is about not only about results, it is about learning from setbacks and striving for constant progress. It is about taking what you have – what you have been given – and making the most with it. Performance is about living up to your capabilities. Performance is about execution. Having an idea or strategy and then finding a way to get it done. Often we look at the hard skills need to perform, yet your emotional state is just as important.
Positive Psychology is an academic field that studies happiness. According to positive psychologists Ken Sheldon and Sonja Lyubomirsky, there is research that says that up to 40 percent of your happiness comes from activities that you choose to do. When you are happier, you perform better in all aspects of your lives. Your work product improves. Your relationships get strengthened.
“When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.” – Shawn Achor
In the search for uncovering the secret to happiness, positive psychology keeps returning to the same concept: gratitude. In multiples studies, researchers have found that if people are purposefully engaged in trying to become more grateful, they are more likely to become happier. Gratitude is a feeling. It is an emotion we choose to have based on our willingness to appreciate the good that is around us.
“Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.”
- Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
- Gratitude improves physical health.
- Gratitude improves psychological health.
- Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
- Grateful people sleep better.
- Gratitude increases mental strength.
- Gratitude improves self-esteem.
Showing gratitude privately and publicly creates happiness. In my life, I have found that people who do certain things are able to experience increased levels of happiness through gratitude.
Three ways to develop gratitude:
- Journal it! Write down daily what you are thankful for. Every morning write down 10 things you are grateful for. Every night before you fall asleep write down another 10 things you are thankful for. Our words create our world. Our thoughts define our reality.
- Tell it! Each day commit to telling one person why you are thankful for them. It could be a friend, spouse, co-worker, child, taxi driver, grocery store cashier… anyone. Telling people you are thankful for them increases your awareness, and creates happiness in others. Do more than say “Thank You”. Be specific as to why you are thankful and even better write them a letter.
- Forget it! All obstacles, struggles, pain and setbacks are only as powerful as we allow them to be. Letting go of the bad, letting go of the negative – is as important as focusing on the good. Dwell only on what can help you achieve your potential and discard the rest.
Being constantly happy is not realistic or even practical. We need adversity. Our well-being is determined by the meaning we give to each situation. We can choose to feel happy based on actions we take. Pain and struggle are vital for growth and mastery. The meaning we apply to the pain is what really determines our happiness. If we can be thankful for the experiences and appreciate what is happening, we then are in control over our personal happiness. Be thankful. Tell others you appreciate them. Ignore the negative. Do those things and you will develop gratitude and find more happiness and be more confident and be more successful.