Gratitude – the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Are you truly happy or do you feel unhappy and unfulfilled in life?

Did you know that doing one simple thing every day could make you enormously happy?

It’s all based on the idea that gratitude is a key to happiness. Instead of always yearning for what we don’t have, we should cultivate a mindset to be thankful for what we do have.  The big events that we look forward to in life are few and far between, such as Christmas, birthday’s, vacations, weddings, the birth of a child, promotion etc.  However, life is filled with many small joys each day, and if we take the time to appreciate the little things in life, we will be much happier.

For example, the other day I took my dog for a walk and I consciously acknowledged how much I enjoyed seeing the sunshine after our recent weeks of gloomy, rainy weather.  I also noticed the feel of the warmth of the sun on my face and the way the frozen leaves crunch under my feet on the walking trail.  I loved the almost hyper-like joy my dog felt to be outside in the fresh air for a long walk for the first time in a week.  All of these things are very little things, but each of them made me smile as I consciously noted them as things for which I was very thankful.

One of the things I talk to my clients about doing is setting aside a few minutes each day to consider three things for which they are thankful.  For some people, keeping a gratitude journal and writing these things down works best.  For others, mentally listing them is enough.  What’s important is that you establish the practice of doing this daily.  It’s easiest to do that if you make a habit of doing it at the same time each day.  For example, you could do this as you go to bed each night, or while you sit and drink your first cup of coffee in the morning.  “No way” you are saying “I don’t have time to sit and drink a cup of coffee in the morning while I ponder what things I’m thankful for!”  Then empower yourself to modify this idea so it best suits your life.  You could tell yourself what you are thankful for while you drive to or from work each day, while you brush your teeth, or while you work out at the gym.  The important thing is that you find a workable way to incorporate it into your life so you actually do it!

Cultivating gratitude is a really fun family activity.  When you eat a meal together, ask your children what things they are thankful for that day.  You could frame it as “what went well today” to get them focused on positive things.  It’s so easy to focus on the bad things that happen.  Focusing on the positive brings happiness and energy.  It’s amazing how powerful this mind shift is. Not only will you enjoy hearing what your children are thankful for, but they will love hearing what makes you happy.  Modeling this behavior for your children will help them to appreciate the little things in life and to develop resiliency to handle the more difficult things that come their way.

So, what are you thankful for today?