Happiness begins with gratefulness. There cannot be happiness without gratefulness. Have you ever caught yourself wishing for a bigger house, for a better job or a newer car? Not that it’s a bad thing to want more, but if you are not grateful for what you have, you will not be happy. Most unhappiness comes from being unsatisfied. If you only ever concentrate on what you don’t have then you will never find fulfillment.
How Do You Find Your Happy?
So how do you find happiness? How do you change your mindset from constantly wanting more, to having a thankful attitude? I want to share with you five simple strategies to help you focus your mind on being grateful. The happiness will come on its own when you start to change your focus. These are pretty simple but are meant to make you actually stop and think and adjust your attitude. It doesn’t cost you money or even a lot of time. It just takes you setting your attitude aside and focusing your mind in a positive manner.
1. Reflect Back on Your Life to Happy Memories
Take a few minutes and look back. Scroll through Facebook pictures if it helps! Remember the fun times you had in college with your friends. Imagine that road trip you took with your family that went terribly wrong but gave you life long memories! When you reflect back, think about what you enjoyed or makes that memory a happy one. Usually, it was the people or the places.
I can remember the first real apartment my husband and I had together. It was terrible, small, on the fourth floor and had no air conditioning. I still remember that apartment and smile. It was the first real place we had together, and the struggles and funny stories made it an adventure. We learned a lot about growing up and becoming adults. Also, we learned a lot about each other. I learned that carrying groceries across the street and up to the 4th floor was no joke. I learned my husband was not afraid of confronting neighbors when issues arose. Overall, it was a fun time.
Memories Can Show You What Is Really Important to You
We did not have a fancy apartment or even a lot of money. But we had each other and time together to have adventures. If you can remember all the fun times when you had nothing, you start to realize what is really important. I promise it is not the size of your apartment or your fancy car that will make a good memory.
2. Every Night Give Thanks
Seriously I have a very hard time falling asleep some nights. I will be stressed out about things that need to get done the next day. Or may be feeling regretful about what didn’t get done that day. Hoping for my kiddos to have better attitudes the next day or for the weekend to be here. It is so easy to get caught up thinking negatively about everything!
Try to spin that focus on the positive. Instead of being upset about what I didn’t get done, I’m thankful that my bathrooms now look spectacularly clean! Seriously that’s a good feeling! Instead of being upset my daughter had an attitude and refused to eat her dinner…again, I’ll try and focus on the amazing drawing she made me earlier in the day because she knew I loved pink. She really is thoughtful and sweet and I am very grateful for her. Happiness begins with gratefulness will become a key phrase in your life when you start realizing how much happier you are when you appreciate what is around you.
3. Focus on the Important People In Your Life
Who is important to you? When one considers the future, who are you thinking of being with or spending your time around? The old saying goes “I would give you the shirt off my back.” So why then can we not be thankful for the friends and relationships that we have? Are they not enough to focus on and be happy about? I can seriously look back and say that without my amazing husband I would not have my wonderful little girls. I would not be sitting here writing and figuring out what I want to do with my life.
Sonja Lyubomirsky has an article called Eight Ways Gratitude Boosts Happiness. In the article she states “gratitude can help build social bonds, strengthening existing relationships and nurturing new ones.” It is important to realize that relationships are not usually strengthened by wallowing in each other’s misery. We need people to help build us up, encourage us.
Everyone has heard of the butterfly effect, but consider that without the people in your life good or bad, past or present, you would not be where you are today. I would rather see a friend happy who might be having a difficult time, then I would care about getting the newest iPhone. When you put people first, a lot of material things seem less important. Finding happiness can also mean seeing others happy.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive Thinking People
Have you ever gone home to visit and spent some time with an old friend? Or even just call someone on the phone and end up emotionally exhausted? It is mentally draining to constantly be around people focused on negative things. Listening to people talk about all of the bad things in their life or everything that is wrong is important. It is good to be a good listener and supportive friend. However, it is not healthy to constantly be around people focused on the negative. It is too easy to get sucked into the “woe is me” vortex.
Negative thinking can be like gossip. If you are around it all the time then you will find yourself thinking about everything that is wrong. You will stop enjoying a rainy day because you are able to get some things done around the house instead of going to the zoo. Instead, you might think “yeah just my luck, anytime I make plans they get ruined.”
Find some friends that are willing to help you stay positive and remind each other of the positives. Friends are there to help enrich your life and for you to help enrich their life. Make sure you are fulfilling your half of that. If one or both of you are not, it might not be a relationship worth investing a lot of your time into.
5. Become a Responsible Steward
Not to get too super “preachy” on you, but most people will agree that there is a greater purpose to this life we are living. Most people believe there is a God and that he can work miracles. Why then, when we believe that He is with us and will help provide for us, are we so skeptical and constantly searching for more? Maybe if we focus on being grateful for what we have we would not constantly be feeling unfulfilled.
Matthew 25:21 says ” Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.”
So, I believe that not only does this pertain to physical wealth, but in relationships and responsibilities. Are you working hard and being a good friend? Do you whine about your job every day or do you give thanks for the opportunity to support your family? If happiness begins with gratefulness, then discontent probably begins with whining. Complaining will never yield better results, but taking care of what you have and being content will lead you to find happiness.
Happiness Begins with Gratefulness
Learning to be grateful for your life, what you have, and the people in it is critical. You cannot be happy with your life if you constantly want more. I can promise you the richest man on earth would not be completely happy if he didn’t learn to be thankful for what he had.
The definition of Content is “a state of peaceful happiness.” This means that you are satisfied and fulfilled with what you have. You are not constantly hoping for what someone else has or being covetous of others wealth and happiness. Be happy for other people instead of envious. Be happy for yourself and all of the wonderful things, people, and opportunities in your life.