THE Shortcut to Happiness = Gratitude

It is the week of giving, when we pause in our busy lives to be with family and friends, to honor them and to reflect on what we are thankful for.

This year, my older daughter will not be with us since she is in France (lucky her.) But as I write this and contemplate gratitude, I find myself thinking about something she said to me at the beginning of the year, in January.

She’d returned home from the store with a box of cards and walked into the kitchen where she announced that she was going to send thank you cards to everyone before she returned to school. Naturally I was thrilled and immediately thought, good job, Shakti, you’ve trained her well. But before I could really pat myself on the back she went on to say:

“I read recently that it isn’t happy people who are grateful. It’s grateful people who are happy.”

Instantly I knew she was right.

In fact, gratitude is the fastest way to feel happy!

Perhaps then it isn’t the excitement of eating turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce that creates the feelings of elation we have on Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s the simple fact that we have paused to be grateful.

And the studies prove this. One example is Dr. Martin Seligman’s work at the University of Pennsylvania. An intervention he measured was having participants write and deliver a gratitude letter. According to his findings, those who completed this task demonstrated a significant rise in their happiness scores and out of all the interventions, this one showed the highest increase in happiness.

So this Thursday, take advantage of Thanksgiving and use it to launch yourself into gratitude.

Here are a few simple ideas to start off with:

1.     Have a Circle of Thanks

On Thanksgiving, go around the room or table and invite each person to share what he or she is grateful for. It can be a word, a sentence or more. Not only is it heart warming but tremendously insightful!

2.     Make A Call

Take 5 minutes on Thanksgiving and call someone you love. Tell them how much you care about them and how thankful you are that this person is in your life.

3.     Commit to Gratitude for 40 days

Starting on Thanksgiving and for the next 40 days, list 3-5 things you’re grateful for. It’s a wonderful way to start the day and can be as simple as thanking your bed for giving you a great sleep, or the shower for waking you up.

Then you can see if you agree with the researchers and my daughter. That gratitude is the shortest way to happiness. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tell me what you plan on doing this Thanksgiving.

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