The Simple Art of Gratitude

Wendy Frias

2/2/20242 min read

man and woman standing in front of louver door
man and woman standing in front of louver door

During the holidays, we usually focus on what brings us joy, taking a moment to appreciate family and friends. Some may extend this spirit of gratitude by donating to charities, volunteering, or offering the gift of time to others. However, what about the remainder of the year? Do we dedicate time to acknowledge all aspects of our lives?

But what if the secret to happiness was gratitude?

Instead of reserving our feelings of gratitude for specific times, why not make it a year-round practice? Yes, it may seem like an extra task, especially on days when the mood doesn't align. Yet, what if embracing gratitude consistently leads to the long-awaited happiness?

"I don't have anything to be grateful for!"

Initiating this exercise can be challenging, especially if you're not accustomed to focusing on gratitude or are navigating a tough period in your life. In moments of PMS or PMDD, my initial focus tends to gravitate towards the negative. So, during such times, I make a continuous effort to redirect my attention and focus on everything I am thankful for.

How do I begin? This seems tough.

My philosophy is to keep things simple. Why complicate matters and make things more challenging than necessary?

Start by acknowledging small things that evoke gratitude. It doesn't have to be a new house or car; it can be the joy of sharing a meal with wonderful friends or the look in your children's eyes when they smile.

Gratitude doesn't solely apply to material things.

Many of us, myself included, tend to express gratitude when receiving material gifts like a new car or the latest phone. However, focusing on immaterial aspects, such as your health, can significantly shift your perspective. Even if material abundance is lacking, you may find abundance in other aspects of life, like family, friends, and love.

Studies have shown that practicing gratitude is a genuine catalyst for happiness. A recent article in Harvard Health Publishing discussed a research study that found gratitude to be linked to happiness. Similar findings were observed in other studies (linked HERE, HERE, and HERE).

What can I do starting today?

Here are a few simple tips to kickstart your journey towards appreciation and happiness:

  • Create a Gratitude Jar: Keep a small mason jar on your desk. Whenever gratitude strikes, jot it down and add it to the jar. At the end of the year, revisit these notes to relish all the wonderful moments.

  • Get a Gratitude Journal: Take 5-10 minutes during your day to write down something you were grateful for. It doesn't have to be extraordinary; it could be as simple as enjoying your local Starbucks without a line. Eventually, you'll find yourself remembering and appreciating more throughout your day and life.

  • Volunteer: Helping those less fortunate provides perspective and a sense of contribution to society. Volunteering not only benefits others but also brings personal fulfillment.

  • Spend Time in Nature: Connecting with nature can be transformative. Admire the trees, the air, and the flowers. Stand in awe of the earth's magnificence. This quiet time can help you work through any issues or simply offer a moment to breathe.

  • See the Good in Others: Change your perspective on how you see people. Recall the positive actions others have done for you, no matter how small. Thinking about the good in people can overshadow negative thoughts.

I hope these tips prove helpful as you embark on your journey toward happiness through gratitude. You deserve it!