Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy people are grateful

Sonja Lyubomirsky is a psychology professor at the University of California, as well as a research psychologist. In her studies, she has discovered 12 things that happy people have in common.

I am happy. Even when I'm feeling crappy, I am a happy person. People are forever asking me how I reached this place. It wasn't because I prayed enough, or took a magic pill, or held my mouth just right while dancing on one foot, or was just born happy (um ... NO ... you can ask my mom about that first year). Yet, I have discovered that self disciplines, even the ones which result in fun, have radically changed my life. These are things I learned through my own therapy and medicinal treatment for depression and anxiety. If you realize the concepts in this series are simply not enough, seek help. Insist on it. Find your own personal level of healing, which is different for everyone. Sometimes I speak "happy" with an accent, because I still dance with depression and anxiety - and that is okay.

I thought I'd focus my Mondays on each of the 12 common factors. It makes sense, because Mondays can totally slurp on the happiness meter.


What are you missing right now in this moment? Where is the happiness all around you?

Stop, and find the things for which you are grateful. The things you already have.

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” — Henry Miller

I have a friend who tweets out her daily gratitudes, and has been doing it for a long time, now. I think she has built in an accountability she did not expect. If she skips a day, everyone wonders where she is! It's also a reminder for ME, daily, to be grateful.

Another friend recommends journaling gratitudes in some way, every single day.

When I deliberately stop, become aware of being present in the moment, and reflect for just a minute, I am typically overwhelmed by all the amazing things around me, in my life and in my heart. It's "turn that frown upside down" on steroids. Even the negatives become positives.

No. Really.

"GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings."

- from the prayer "Be Thankful," which you can read in its entirety in "Why Living a Life of Gratitude Can Make You Happy"

If this post irritates you or makes you angry, sit in that feeling for a minute. Try to discover what lies underneath the anger. Dare to nudge yourself through it and force yourself to find gratefulness, even in your current dark places.

Then do it again tomorrow.


GB's Mom said...

great prayer!

happygirl said...

I am a HUGE believer in gratitude being the key to happiness. Thanks for the post. And prayer. My journey in happiness is mostly readjusted when I remember to be grateful. :)

Sarah said...

This is so true. Thank you for the reminder. :)

Lisa said...

Over 13 years ago, my Al-Anon sponsor "made" me do this as part of my recovery. I resented her for that homework cause pissiness ruled my life. But I did it anyway. Grumbling all the way. About a month in to journaling my daily gratitudes the people at the post office started asking me what I was doing because I was "glowing". Cue the twilight music cause that was freaky. The only thing I had changed in my life (at that point) was doing my gratitude journal.

Now I try my hardest to make this a cornerstone in my life. It wasn't the easiest thing to get in the habit of doing it but dang if it didn't work in ways that still amaze me. We still do gratitude journals at dinner time as a family and write them down. If we start missing some days, in less than a week it shows in our attitudes and it ain't pretty.

Jenn said...

Very timely and needed reminder. Going to see how much my Facebook friends are paying attention and try to write something daily. Because to be honest, 2011 can suck it. But it won't be like this forever, right?

Lisa said...

The idea of gratitude being the key to happiness is core to a book I just finished, 'What Happy People Know' by Dan Baker. He talks about it as appreciation.

Great challenge for us all. said...

we are big gratitude fans around here, we have kids acknowledge those things in their lives everyday, it matters, it helps and it is important.

wannabe said...

i belong to a facebook group called the thankfulness challenge - we're supposed to post daily what we're thankful for.