“And they lived happily ever after!” These are the words you hear after every fairy-tale story. Every human, irrespective of age, designation or possession, is chasing for happiness in a way or the other.
The world’s leading expert on gratitude, Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, with his colleague Michael McCullough from the University of Miami, published a journal of Personality and Social Psychology, where they experimented the impact of writing gratitude diaries with 200 undergraduate students.
Students were divided into three groups, and each group was asked to write 10 weekly diaries focusing on gratitude, complaints, or neutral events.
At the end of 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude felt more positive about their lives, more optimistic about the future, had fewer physical symptoms, and spent more time exercising.
This research is a good suggestion that happiness is mostly connected with our ability to be grateful. Gratefulness doesn’t change the world, but it changes your perception to see the world differently, and that change in perception is all you need to stay happier in life.
Here are three suggestions that can help you develop your perception of happiness:
Many times in our daily lives, we meet people who contribute positivity to our life. It could come from colleagues, family, friends or even strangers. It is important to acknowledge those little acts of kindness that we receive, and not take anything for granted.
The expression of kindness doesn’t have to be always big in action. It could be a small gesture that is easy and possible without much extra effort like smiling, greeting, sending regards, giving compliments, sending condolences, just letting people know you value them and think about them, etc.
Sometimes in our process of trying to be kind, we start with actions that are too big to sustain, and we eventually get tired when we don’t receive an equal response, and also get disappointed when we aren’t able to do it as often as we want to.
Kindness is about our thoughts and intentions as much as it is about our actions. Instead of asking what people can do for you, try asking what can you do for them?
Every person you meet is fighting some sort of battle in their life – emotionally, physically or psychologically. How can you contribute some positivity into their lives? That is where the process of kindness begins.
When you see yourself as a work in progress, it helps you accept your past mistakes and encourages you to do better. If you live with constant regret about something you cannot change, it will ruin the joy of all the new happiness that is coming into your life every day. So, accept your past failures as learning lessons and do better today.
As much as it is easy to live with regret for something you did or didn’t do, it is equally easy to blame others and hold them accountable for your unhappiness.
The best part of considering yourself a work in progress is that it allows you to consider others as work in progress as well. This perception helps you accept that every person you meet, no matter how frustrating or stupid or arrogant he or she might be, is in the same process of self-development just like you.
There are some things in life we can change. For example: if you’re unhappy about your current job role or position, you might consider learning new skills, and start seeking for a better position. You can’t change much about the world you live in but you can always change yourself, and that is enough for a happy life.
However, there are also many things in our lives that we cannot control. For example, rain, traffic, crowd, summer heat, etc. if you choose to express your frustration about every unpleasant experience, your life will be full of unproductive tension and endless stress with no possibility of any solution.
So, the most positive way to respond to uncontrollable circumstances is to accept it as part and parcel of life. Challenges teach us lifelong lessons that pleasures can never give.
Happiness is subjective and different people may define happiness in different ways. However, at the centre of every definition of happiness lies perception, and the good news is that perceptions can change anytime.
Ask yourself these questions today – What are those negative thoughts that are dragging you down and not allowing you to reach the happiness you’re chasing? How can you adjust your thoughts to put gratitude at the centre of your daily life?
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