Thanksgiving – Learning to Be Grateful Makes You Happy

With Thanksgiving upon us, I wanted to share a straightforward concept that can improve your happiness quotient both at home and at work.

This is the idea of developing the skill of pausing to find gratitude in what you have going on in your life, right now! You can easily develop this awareness by making a habit of simply writing down these gratitude nuggets as you look for them.

Bully, you say? Who has time to do that? You don’t have my crazy life!

Because of all the good that comes from being happy, including increased work productivity, the better question is “who doesn’t have time to do this!”

Develop Gratitude Awareness

No matter how significant the difficulties are in your life, I bet you still have a lot of great and beautiful things to be grateful for going on concurrent with the challenges. A reason for not currently recognizing them is due to a simple lack of awareness and effort. This can change overnight.

Let me illustrate through an analogy.  I drove home the same way for several years. Then, one day, I came upon a view of a giant water tower I never noticed before. Literally a huge water tower! Once seeing it, I scratched my head thinking how could I have ever missed it. Obviously, it was always there, I just didn’t see it. From, that day on I always noticed it.

You can do the same with gratitude.

Then, Make it a Habit

According to U.C. Davis Psychologist Robert Emmons, and author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, becoming aware of “things to be grateful for” is a habit you can develop quickly and easily. One way Emmons proposes is simply writing down “Five things you are grateful for” every day.

According to Emmons, within several weeks, you’ll quickly develop a “gratitude mindset”  muscle. And, like a muscle, the more you work at it, the stronger it will become. In short order, you see things to be grateful for everywhere. Soon, you’ll be noticing your own “water towers” that once recognized, you’ll never miss them again.


Emmons found that people who do this gratitude awareness development, after just three weeks, report being significantly happier in their life. Because they are now trained on what to look for, people become much keener at spotting gratitude opportunities.

More significant, is when you look at the larger goal of being happy or feeling satisfied in life, gratitude plays an integral part in achieving both according to leaders who study this. Gratitude is like rocket fuel for driving the behaviors that produce long-term happiness, satisfaction, and well-being.

More on that some other time.

Nothing to Buy

What is interesting about Emmon’s study is the only thing required to bring more happiness into one’s life is changing the person’s perception. You don’t need a new job, better family or other “stuff” to make you happier. You just need a slight recalibration on how you view the world. Best of all, you can start immediately.

As they say, change your perception, change your world.

Start This Thanksgiving!

So with Thanksgiving around the corner perhaps now is a good time to try this practice and pause, look around, and see all that is around you to be grateful for.  You’ll be surprised how much there is.

Then, jot them down. In a couple of weeks, you’ll surprise yourself with a list of hundreds of things specific to you to be grateful for. Things that you never paid attention to. And, you’ll be happier.

In case you don’t know it, the world loves happy people. I know I do.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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