Gratitude. It seems like the buzz word these days, but does it really make a difference to our overall happiness?
One night, not too long ago, I woke to a dripping noise. We had just been issued a severe weather warning and I could hear rain pelting the roof above. I paused and listened.
My mind raced. It can’t be! Stumbling, barely awake, I made my way across the room to the light switch and looked up. Water had accumulated on the ceiling and was dripping onto the floor. I lay awake that night, hearing every drop that fell into the bucket below. At 2 am, the mind battles with the negative. It sees only the dark. Things seem so much worse.
As morning came and light flooded the house, we talked it through. We knew now that there would be a solution. All would be okay. My husband joked ‘Well, we now we have our very own water feature’ We really did. I couldn’t stop laughing! Suddenly, I felt so grateful for this moment. Laughing together, happy to be safe, warm and ‘mostly’ dry.
It is not easy to practise gratitude when we are hit with difficulties. It’s not our go-to response. There’s no logic in it. But when we are thankful, the hard stuff becomes a little less powerful. Good takes the foreground. When we are thankful, we give more power to that good. We give the light a place to shine through.
Harvard academics conducted a study where participants wrote down several things each day that they were grateful for. The research showed that those who practised daily gratitude were happier and more optimistic about their lives than those who did not.
Studies have actually shown that gratitude improves well-being, health and happiness. Just focusing on a few things a day can make a huge impact.
It is easy to imagine that people become thankful for their lives once they are happy, but this is not the case. Gratitude and thankfulness always come first. Thankfulness is where deep happiness comes from.
I love this quote by David Steindl-Rast.
‘It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
Have you ever kept a gratitude journal or do you practise daily gratitude? I’d love to hear your thoughts.