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Be grateful, be happy

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the things we are grateful for.

Yet instead of confining this practice to a once-a-year holiday ritual, think about turning it into an everyday habit.

Research suggests that counting your blessings on a regular basis boosts your quality of life.

Read it on getAbstract

In The How of Happiness, psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky lists gratitude practice as one of 12 happiness-boosting activities. Focusing on the good life experiences automatically shifts you into a more positive mindset. Lyubomirsky recommends you start a weekly “gratitude journal” in which you reflect upon the things you are grateful for.

“Research suggests that the initial steps to becoming happier can be implemented straightaway.” – Sonja Lyubomirsky

You don’t need to find happiness before you can be grateful. Quite the opposite: gratefulness is a path to happiness, explains Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast in an inspiring TED talk.

Steindl-Rast suggests a simple practice, which he calls “stop, look, go:” As you go about your busy day, pause periodically. Open up your senses and take in the beauty of the moment – whatever it might involve. Then go ahead and act on the opportunity that has presented itself in that very moment.

“So, it is not happiness that makes you grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes you happy.” – David Steindl-Rast

Read it on getAbstract

These simple, yet powerful techniques fit into a growing body of research on neuroplasticity – the groundbreaking discovery that our brains are malleable. Through regular gratefulness practice, you can create new neural pathways that will lead you to a more positive outlook.

As with physical exercise, the effectiveness of happiness-inducing activities depends on regular practice. Yet practicing gratefulness doesn’t require sweat inducing workouts. Just taking in the moment and finding something to appreciate at regular intervals can change your life for the better.

 

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