What does happiness mean to you? Does it come in the form of money, prestige, or the achievement of goals (job, spouse, house, kids, and in that order)?
Though we all strive for happiness, no one seems to have a clear definition of what it is–or how we know when we’ve made it. Only 33% of Americans say they feel happy in their daily lives; perhaps the key to improving our happiness is to understand just what being happy truly means.
Practicing gratitude is the best way to start. Consider what you have in life right now, whether it was earned, given, or bought. Do you have a job, a place to live, and a support system (family or friends)? What about your own room, a gaming console, or even a pet?
Chances are you are experiencing and benefitting from things (objects, events, experiences) others have always dreamed about. No matter what life you lead or what things you own.
Regardless of your own personal reactions to and understandings of them, when you appreciate the little aspects of life that are often taken for granted, happiness will find its way into your heart and your home with ease.
Practice Makes Perfect
Unfortunately, positive thinking can be extremely difficult to implement without a bit of help. By working the following tips into your everyday lives to open your mind to the whole world, you’ll be able to appreciate what already exists in your own.
1. Clear the Clutter
And we mean literally. Tidy up your space. This is the best way to begin any project, whether mental or physical. The mind is incredibly malleable; if the area that you live and work in is messy, your thoughts will be, too.
You’re trying to make a big mental change, so clearing your physical space of any clutter can help you focus on that change without any distractions getting in the way. Best of all, you can make good on your promises. Anything that you don’t need or want can be donated to someone who will truly appreciate it, turning your noble words into nobler actions.
2. Write It Down
Many people are visual learners, meaning they absorb new information and ways of thinking best through their sense of sight.
By simply writing down what you’re grateful for or drawing a picture, you will constantly be reminding yourself of how good your life actually is. It may not be exactly what you desire, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t chock-full of positivity.
The physical act of writing these daily graces makes them more obvious and tangible, ensuring that your mental change towards the recognition of gratitude has a solid foundation.
3. Find A Coach
If you find yourself struggling, there is no shame in requesting outside help. In fact, the very act of searching for a gratitude coach shows your dedication to changing your frame of mind.
Whether you schedule appointments with a gratitude guide or listen to podcasts created by life coaches, you will be taking the initiative towards a more grateful existence and will be discovering new tools and techniques to help you along the way.
Once you are able to appreciate your own life, happiness will follow. Plus, the perks are great! A
study performed in 2013 found that those who showed more gratitude during their waking hours were able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer; when your head is no longer filled with negative thoughts, there is nothing to keep you tossing and turning. Correspondingly, a separate study reported in Psychology Today found that those who kept a gratitude journal rated better on mood tests. Unsurprisingly, negative thoughts contribute to depression and anxiety, and gratitude journals can help eliminate both at the source.
There’s no better time to start than today. As in, right now! Clear the clutter from your room and mind, get yourself a gratitude journal or sketchbook, and throw on a podcast to get your brain in the right mood while you take note (literally!) of all the wonderful things in your life — don’t wait (or worry), be happy!