Increasing happiness? Try gratitude

an exercise in gratitude

I’ve heard a lot of folks recently talking about increasing happiness. Something is missing from their lives. They got this emptiness and they don’t know what’s missing.

Well, I’ve talked earlier about having a purpose and how that increases your chances of being happy. However, I haven’t talked much about gratitude.

And why haven’t I? Because, it’s something I didn’t start practicing enough of.

Until now.

I pulled the trigger and hired a life coach. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know how much I strongly believe in continually improving yourself. Continual self-improvement in every aspect that you can control, which actually is most of your life.

How does gratitude and increasing happiness tie together?

Very simply. Studies have shown that happy people are grateful. Are they happy because they are grateful? Or are they grateful because they are happy?

Actually, both.

My life coach had me try some exercises about gratitude. And sure enough, I started noticing things to be grateful for all over the place. Things I didn’t notice before. Things I often took for granted.

I thought I had a pretty good life. I was wrong, very wrong. Actually, I have a great life!

I’m in my 40s, have an excellent wife who has become my favorite person on the planet. I’m extremely healthy. Not just for my age, but healthy, period.

I have a wonderful son. He just finished serving his country and is now learning that people really appreciate that service. He’s learning that when it comes to employment, people favor Vets. As they should!

Financially, I’m smoking it. I started from absolutely nothing and now am in the top 5% of the country financially. Not a huge deal for some, but it’s not a competition for me. I don’t need to be richer than other people. Money for me – I want enough that I don’t ever have to worry about money ever again. I’m there already.

You’d be surprised how good you have it

The exercises also found things that I took for granted. For instance, this may sound lame to a lot of people but it’s a huge deal for me.

I have some of the most kick ass friends on the planet. These are people that appreciate me and know me very well. We have a lot of overlap in passions, and because of that, our time together is quality time.

In the previous place I worked, I hired two coaches to help get me in shape and also change our diets into something that worked for us. It worked big time and those are two reasons we’re extremely healthy today.

Now, I’m not saying this to brag. I’m saying this because chances are, there’s something in your life that’s pretty fucking awesome, but you take it for granted.

So going back to increasing happiness, when my life coach actually pointed this stuff out and told me I need to appreciate it (showing gratitude), wow! It really made me happy.

The same could work for you. Think of something in your life that you take for granted and instead of taking it for granted, practice gratitude for it. You’d be pleasantly surprised how much happier you will be.

Once you notice one thing, you’ll start noticing other things.

My wife is religious. I’m not. However, it doesn’t matter. What matters is she incorporates saying thanks to God into her daily life. You don’t have to be religious to do this. Simply practice gratitude for what’s going right.

“But I don’t have shit right now”

OK, you’re young and broke. By reading this, instead of getting the point, you started to compare what you have to what I have. If so, you’re reading this whole article wrong.

I was flat broke for most of my 20s. One year, I was so broke that I spent several nights in my car and weeks crashing at friends’ houses.

However, I had a chip on my shoulder, and an extreme amount of competitiveness, tenacity, and ambition. If you have those things in your 20s and if you don’t turn into a cynical loser in your 30s, I can guarantee you that with the right plan, you’ll be laughing in your 40s. I can guarantee you that.

Roman writes about increasing happiness. This is a statue of Pan in Madrid

By my 40s, I was traveling the world because we had a lot of money. This is a statue of Pan in Madrid

So, if you currently have nothing, but you have fierce competitiveness, tenacity, and ambition, that’s what you should be thankful for. Those traits will translate into success.

Cynicism will make you miserable

I always try to end a motivational post on a happy note. However, this time around, I won’t.

We’re talking about increasing happiness by showing gratitude.

Cynicism is the opposite. Cynics will find everything wrong with the world and are always miserable people. When I hear people using the saying “a healthy amount of cynicism,” that’s like saying “a healthy amount of cancer.” Cynicism really is cancer to your happiness. The analogy is spot on.

Not only that, cynical people never accomplish shit. It’s because they always find the negative in everything. They’re miserable people and to be quite honest, the sooner you dump cynical people from your life, the happier you’ll become.

You have a great idea? They’ll tell you how it won’t work.

You’re happy? They’ll tell you why you shouldn’t be and try to make you feel guilty about it.

Cynical people are ungrateful people. They lack the ability to appreciate, and those are the people you need to get out of your life.

So if you’re the cynical one, then knock it off. Start practicing gratitude for what goes right and you’ll be surprised how much actually does go right.

About

Roman is an artist, composer, writer, and travel junkie.

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