“If you want to find happiness, find gratitude” – Steve Maraboli
I used to think that happiness was something that happened after I got the things that I wanted. Happiness, to me, was the “end goal”. Whatever I was working for -getting into college, landing my dream job, getting enough money to buy the clothes I wanted- was always the next step to finally being “there” and happy.
But after years of focusing solely on the outcome of my actions and not finding the happiness I was looking for, I realized that until I could truly appreciate what I already have in my life getting and achieving more wasn’t going to offer me any additional happiness whatsoever.
This shift happened at a time in my life when I was fresh out of college, earning a $800/month in my new job and on food stamps when I decided to start being thankful for what I had instead of what wallowing in what I didn’t have. Even though looking back at that stage in my life I realize that I didn’t have a lot (very little in fact) – I was happy. How is that possible? True happiness for me started the moment that I started writing down things that I was grateful that I DID have in my life regardless of what I didn’t have.
I remember feeling skeptical that simply writing down things that I was thankful for before I went to bed would make me a happier person, but it did. And then some. Every night before I went to bed, I would take 5 minutes and list out the things that I was grateful for in my journal. Almost immediately, I was able to start seeing more things in my life that were going well instead of viewing everything as a disaster. Even though I was going through a rough patch, I still had more things to be grateful for than not. It’s almost miraculous that something so simple can be so profound and empowering.
To help you discover your own happiness that is already within you, here are 3 tips to get you started as you begin your gratitude journal:
1. Develop the art of positive thinking.
Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.
2. Drop the comparison of others.
My favorite quote to sum this up: “comparison is the thief of joy”. Drop the comparison and watch your happiness soar.
3. Find joy in the little things.
It can be as small as taking 10 minute to savor your cup of coffee in the morning, taking your dog for a walk or making dinner for your loved ones. Life is really one big series of the small, little moments. Enjoy them.
The first few times writing down things you’re grateful for can prove to be a little difficult at first. It might be something completely out of your comfort zone, but remember (like all things) the first step is always the hardest. Start slow and be patient with yourself. The more you practice, the more you are developing your ability to think more positive. Let go of your comparison of yourself to others. You will soon discover yourself finding joy in the little things- the birds chirping in the early morning, the gorgeous sunset, your ability to see and read and so much more. Soon enough you won’t be able to stop seeing all of the things that are going well throughout your day as a result of writing them down at night.
How could (or does) a gratitude journal bring you happiness in your own life?
Photo by micadew
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9 thoughts on “The Real Secret to Happiness”
I have gratitude towards you Aliesha, for writing this article. I think that we, as a species are hard-wired towards happiness, and it being short term. This is part of the engine that drives change and evolution. However, did you ever consider your “pleasure compass” as a guide towards better living? Pleasure is a more short term state, like enjoying your cup of coffee. Check out James Bampfield’s “The Discipline of Pleasure,” for a different take on this topic.
Thanks for the kind words, Don! I’ll have to check out James’ book. Sounds like a great topic!
I think learning to be grateful for the things you already have (food, a place to sleep, friends and family) is the first step in becoming a better version of yourself. But it seems so hard for people to realize that. I also used to think like you. That the end goal would make me happy but that was never the case but at some point I realized that I just have to be grateful for the things I already have in order to be more positive and happy. I enjoyed reading the article I could relate to it so that made it even better.
So glad that you enjoyed, Timo! I absolutely agree with you- gratitude is the first step to becoming the best version of yourself. So simple and awesome that we all have it within us :)
Indeed it’s awesome that we have it within is but it’s sad at the same time because so many fail to understand that. But I guess we can help those people on their Journey so they’ll eventually realize that gratitude is that important.
You should read “The Ultimate Gift” by James Stovall…it gives a great perspective on gratitude and what’s truly important in life. It is a life changing book when you’re in the right frame of mind to read and accept its message.
How true! Whe have to start to change the way we think. Experiences can be considered better or worse, depending on the degree of use we make of them. In addition, we must learn to enjoy the little pleasures of life, because they really give true meaning to our daily lives.
Great post, congratulations!
Nice written article. The quote “Comparison is the thief of joy’ has triggered a thinker for me. Yes indeed, it is true. I like this quote very much and it has set a reminder to me as the parent of my children.
Thanks, I enjoyed your article.
This article is really inspirational