How to cultivate gratitude and boost happiness

“‘Enough’ is a feast.” ~ Buddhist proverb

This has been a particularly stressful year (to say the least), so as we verge towards the end of 2020 it is important to reflect on all the difficulties we have overcome and the blessings we have.

Feeling grateful makes people feel good: that’s not just intuition, it’s science. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.[1]

When you focus on the things that make you feel happy and lucky to be alive, you radiate an infectious optimism that attracts only the best from the world around you.

So, here are some easy habits we can adopt to become a more grateful person – you can also make this list a New Year’s resolution… 😊


Slow down and take notice

Pick three good things that you see or experience during the day, then write them down or post them on the World Gratitude Map (uh huh, such a thing does exist!).

To bring conscious awareness into your life, start by being aware of the thoughts that are constantly parading through your mind. You don’t have to change the thoughts, just become aware of them and the act of noticing will free you from them. This, in Buddhist tradition, is known as being “mindful.” Being mindful allows us to be aware and conscious of the present moment. Our thoughts can be like clouds that pass by, instead of hooks that grab us in and take us into the worries of the past or the future.#


Practice gratitude mantras

You may already be reciting affirmations that connect with your major goals (such as finding peace or increasing your self-esteem). However, it is worth adding in a mantra that helps you turn into your gratitude. You can repeat the Sanskrit words Dhanya Vad – ‘I feel gratitude’ {dahn-yah vahd}, or it might be as simple as saying “I am ready to receive the day, and I will be grateful for all the beautiful things I encounter” or “I am grateful for all of life’s exciting opportunities.”

If you prefer, design your affirmation to reflect specific things that inspire gratitude, such as your loved ones, health, financial stability or talents.


Find the positive

When you have a spare 30 minutes or so to reflect, try an exercise that finds the good in some of life’s most challenging moments. Write down 5-10 of the things you appreciate most. For example, relationships, experiences, possessions, or even just life lessons that serve you particularly well.

Then, next to each item on the list, write down at least one difficulty that, had you not had to face it, would not have helped you appreciate that item more. Keep the list as a reminder that every seemingly negative event can lead to something incredibly valuable and important.


Say thank you

Take time to thank someone every day, anything from a card to an email or a phone call will do. Connecting with others this way will help you get outside of your own head.

You might want to thank people you encounter every day or somebody who made a lasting impact on who you are now. Think about the people who have shaped and changed your life for the better, and consider some ways to let them know how thankful you are.


Count your blessings

Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Pick a number, such as three to five things, that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.


Shift your perspective

There’s nothing wrong with trying to achieve more and move ahead in life, but we can never be truly happy if we do not appreciate what we already have. So, for example, instead of feeling sad and frustrated about being single, we can see it as the freedom to be able to choose our partner and wait until we find the right one. In the same way, when we catch ourselves complaining about housework, we can see it as a blessing that we have our own home and, as a result, clean it with gratitude. Instead of feeling annoyed about a job we hate or feel bored with, we can feel grateful that we have a job and a regular income to pay our bills.

In conclusion, we all feel and express gratitude in different ways. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you spend some time being aware of your blessings. Regardless of the current level of gratitude that we express in our everyday life, the good news is that there is no limit to it (as there is no limit to how happy we can be). Let’s make it a priority for the New Year and cultivate more gratitude in everything we do.