“Thanksgiving” Reminds Us How Gratitude Makes Us Happy

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for quite a while.  Of course, it is wonderful to see family and friends, as well as to eat great food.  We recall how our Thanksgiving holiday is meant to show gratitude for what we have.  For most of American history people had relatively little by current standards.  Now people recite make small gesture of  thanks for their family, friends, faith, flag, wealth or some other external influence.  In fact, Thanksgiving now serves to whet our collective appetites for more. Over the past few decades, Thanksgiving has become the launch pad for an increasingly-crazed, Christmas consumption binge.  Clearly this has changed because capitalism needs people to keep buying more new stuff – see my earlier article “Karl Marx would be Marveling at Capitalism’s Collapse.

This article explains the true nature of gratitude and how to practice it regularly and routinely.  For the last few years at Thanksgiving I have meant to write an article about the relationship between happiness and gratitude.   This year I have done it!  I’m more convinced that how grateful we are for our life, the happier we tend to be.  This is true because focusing on the positive and being thankful for what we have makes us feel better about our situation.  It also is true that we attract more of what we are grateful for into our lives.  First, I want to clearly and carefully express my personal gratitude for where my life is now; and where it is heading.   Next, I have collected and edited some well-written articles about the clear, even scientific, connections between gratitude and happiness.  I open and end with carefully selected quotes about gratitude, happiness, and Thanksgiving.  Click to Learn and Leave Comments.

Quotations about Gratitude and Happiness

Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can. ~ Dalai Lama

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~ Melody Beattie

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. … You say grace before meals.  All right.  But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. ~ G.K. Chesterton

You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled. ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation. ~ Brian Tracy

Reasons I am Grateful and Happy

For as long as I can remember, I have been grateful.  I usually routinely say “Thank you” to be polite and from a deeper spiritual core.  I also have long understood the connection between gratitude and happiness – both from personal reflection and research scholarship.  I have played a lot of roles in my life.  I was a happy when I was married and raising my kids.  I am most grateful for my two great, grown kids and wonderful ex-wife (who prefer to remain anonymous.)  I am happy about being single again (while enjoying close friends.)  I am also grateful for my wonderful mother and father (deceased); as well as my siblings and other relatives.  I was happy being in school for almost my entire life – both as student and professor.  Now I am glad to be an freelancing entrepreneur.

Mainly I am happy with and grateful for myself.  I need the sense of being my own person with no one else to serve.  Living as close as I can to my values makes me very happy.  Over the past decade,  I have been able to study and lead a renewed version of the hippie lifestyle.  I do what I want to when I want to. I am spontaneous and go with the flow.  My definition of happiness has always been to “do my own thing!”   I have always questioned and rejected authorities.  I am grateful that no one ever has told me what to do (life of professor was sweet.)   Now I have “time to smell the flowers” and really like where I am at.  I credit a lot of this to following the types of simple suggestions that are explained later in this article.

Weaver Street Market - Heart of Carrboro, NC

Home and Community

Research shows that where we live has a lot to do with how happy we feel.  I am very grateful to have lived in Carrboro, NC (twin town to Chapel Hill) for the past five years.  It is the hippest and happiest place in North Carolina – if not the entire southeast.   It reminds me of other places I lived in my youth – Madison, Boulder and Ann Arbor.  It is clean, safe and sustainable – a true college community.  Thanks to the UNC Tar Heels we are in blue heaven.  It is also the same place about which our late Senator Jesse Helms remarked in the late sixties:  “Why do we need to build a state zoo.  Just put a fence around Chapel Hill.”  Anyhow, Carrboro is the more progressive and sustainable of the two communities.  It has the greater share of original and new hippies, as well as grad students.  We also enjoy free public transportation and a wonderful downtown hub at the Weaver St. Market.  I am fortunate to rent a “work-living space” in the heart of Carrboro (a.k.a. Paris of the Piedmont.) For more information, check my home town tribute (CLICK HERE).

Information Technology and Content

The human race has never had so much information and entertainment available at our fingertips that it is hard to appreciate how recent much of this is.  I got my first computer in 1985 (Apple IIe) and have tried to stay on the leading edge since then.  I am most grateful for high-speed internet and friendly interfaces (I still prefer mouse and keyboard.)  I also now have way too much music and video at my disposal – in electronic and physical forms.   I grew up collecting records and recording music on cassette tapes.  I also was big on recording from TV onto VCR tapes (still have many of these artifacts.)  I am now grateful for cable TV and the Digital Video Recorder (DVR.)  I also appreciate the power of my DVD recorder (as hooked to my high-definition DVR.)  I also am grateful for the progressive voices – particularly those on MSNBC, Alternet, and elsewhere.   I am grateful for torrent technology and other open-source innovations.   Above all, I am grateful for the hippie visions and values of the late, great Steve Jobs that pushed all this forward.

Social Movements

Progressive social movements make our world a better place for more people.  I am grateful for the hippies who inspired my youth and shaped my values and the lifestyle I try to follow.  For the last ten years I have conducted scholarly and personal research on the hippie counterculture – as a social movement.  Their legacy is vast and overwhelmingly positive (e.e., organic food, the Internet, and great music.)  I am forever in debt to the musical and social visionaries I profile on this site.  My goal in return is to promote their legacy.      I am grateful for the NCSU undergrads I taught between 2004 and 2009.  I got to try out my theories and they turned me onto the Internet.   Now we see a powerful and productive youth movement rising up to Occupy America again.  They share many values and visions with the hippies, as well as native Americans, Buddhists, and socialist.   It is a wonderful case of Deja-Vu that I write about elsewhere on this site.

Music and Environment

Research shows that music has a lot to do with shaping our moods and our minds.  I played music a lot between ages 15-25 before getting busy with school, work, and family.   I am grateful for my dozens of musical instruments – guitars, harmonicas, drums and more.  It seems I have played more and better on a constant progression over the past dozen years since I got back into music.  I am truly blessed with near-perfect pitch and an uncanny ability to recall lyrics when I sing.   I also truly appreciate what digital recording and editing technology allows me to do with both audio and video (hobbies in my youth.)  Living alone allows me to play music, watch TV or generally “do my own thing.”  I also am able to decorate my home with all my art, books, and clutter.  I also have dedicated much of my space to electronics, computer, musical instruments, televisions, and other toys.  Of course I owe much to musical visionaries who inspire me and millions more.  I now channel their spirits when I play.

Food, Water, and Drugs

Americans are truly blessed with an abundant and available selection of food, drink and related items.  We can buy food that is convenient, tasty and reasonably priced.   I am grateful for the microwave and gas-powered, outdoor grill.  I am also grateful for vast variety of cold and hot beverages – some of which alter our moods.  For my entire personal and professional life I have been connected to clean and clear water.  People are over 3/4 water so use it wisely.  I am also very grateful to the great water aerobics classes at our local YMCA.   I am grateful and amazed at the wide variety of drugs that many of us use (at least occasionally) – including uppers, downers and others.   Over the last decade I have also once again had the chance to experience the benefits and pleasures of marijuana and other psychedelics.  Why can’t all Americans have the same access to pot that Californians do?  You can read much more about that issue at this site.

Grateful for Rocky (shown) and Shadow (hiding) - NEW Guitar

How Gratitude Makes You Happy

In this section I have collected and edited the best articles that urge people to be grateful if they want to be happy.  I have focused on those linked to social science and psychology.  No coincidence that these usually around this time of year (Thanksgiving.)  Try some of these suggestions – They Work!!

Important Ways That Gratitude Can Change Your Life

The simple act of gratitude on a regular basis will change anyone’s life, positively and immediately. How many other changes can claim to be that quick, that easy, and that profound?  Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can incorporate gratitude into your life, and how it will change your life.  Pick and choose the ones you think will work for you.

  • Have a morning gratitude session. Take one minute in the morning (make it a daily ritual) to think of the people who have done something nice for you, to think of all the things in your life you’re grateful for. You won’t get to everything in one minute, but it’s enough. And it will instantly make your day better, and help you start your day off right.
  • When you’re having a hard day, make a gratitude list. We all have those bad days sometimes. We are stressed out from work. We get yelled at by someone. We lose a loved one. We hurt a loved one. We lose a contract or do poorly on a project. One of the things that can make a bad day much better is making a list of all the things you’re thankful for. There are always things to be thankful for — loved ones, health, having a job, having a roof over your head and clothes on your back, life itself.
  • Instead of getting mad at someone, show gratitude. That’s a major switching of attitudes — actually a complete flip. And so this isn’t always easy to do.  Take some deep breaths, calm down, and try to think of reasons you’re grateful for that person. Has that person done anything nice for you? Has that person ever done a good job? Find something, anything, even if it’s difficult. Focus on those things that make you grateful. It will slowly change your mood. And if you get in a good enough mood, show your gratitude to that person. It will improve your mood, your relationship, and help make things better.

  • When you face a major challenge, be grateful for it. Many people will see something difficult as a bad thing. If something goes wrong, it’s a reason to complain, it’s a time of self-pity. That won’t get you anywhere. Instead, learn to be grateful for the challenge — it’s an opportunity to grow, to learn, to get better at something. This will transform you from a complainer into a positive person who only continues to improve. People will like you better and you’ll improve your career.
  • Instead of looking at what you don’t have, look at what you do have. Have you ever looked around you and bemoaned how little you have? How the place you live isn’t your dream house, or the car you drive isn’t as nice as you’d like, or your peers have cooler gadgets or better jobs? If so, that’s an opportunity to be grateful for what you already have.
  • It’s easy to forget that there are billions of people worse off than you — who don’t have much in the way of shelter or clothes, who don’t own a car and never will, who don’t own a gadget or even know what one is, who don’t have a job at all or only have very menial, miserable jobs in sweatshop conditions. Compare your life to these people’s lives, and be grateful for the life you have. And realize that it’s already more than enough, that happiness is not a destination — it’s already here.

Why Gratitude Makes You Happier and Wealthier By Christine Kane – November 24, 2006

Gratitude is about so much more than being thankful. Gratitude is a practice. For some, it is a way of life. Why do some people swear by this practice? Why do those people live happier and more abundant lives than everyone else?

Because gratitude is about presence.

Gratitude is about waking up in this moment and being here – really being here – and noticing what’s around you. Most people are so busy thinking about the next thing, or their horrid past, that they don’t wake up and look around at their present moment — the only moment there is.

Because gratitude is about honoring your life.

Do you ever compare your life with someone else’s? Do you ever wish your life were better and more like another’s? Sometimes we can lose ourselves in wondering how we “measure up” to some standard set by someone else or by the media or by our parents. My belief is this: Comparison is the mind killer. And the antidote is gratitude.  Gratitude requires you to validate your own life It forces you say YES to the gift that is you. The choices you’ve made, the changes you’ve gone through, the track you’re on — all of those have brought you here. Even if here is a place that needs a little adjustment, that’s okay. There are always gifts in any present moment.

Because gratitude is about attracting.

It’s difficult to attract abundance and joy if you are saying “no” to what IS. You say no each time you focus too much on the future or past, or when you criticize something that is in your present moment. When you say yes, you shift. Attraction is about “yes.”  Gratitude says, “Yes, I love this!” And then more of this is attracted, because the this is what you’re focusing on.

Because gratitude is about choice.

How you translate any situation is the situation. What you choose to see is the truth (for you). This isn’t proposing that you live in denial or phoniness. It’s reminding you that your translation of any life situation is your own choice. Over and over we’ve all heard stories of people who have ignored others’ translations of their talent, their projects, their art, their looks, their lives. These people chose their own translations and succeeded. You always have a choice when it comes to how you look at things. Choose to choose gratitude.

Because gratitude is about wisdom.

I think people believe they’re being smart if they criticize, complain, and focus on the problems of the world around them. Smart? Maybe. Clever? Sure. But not wise. It is wise to look for and find the knowing place in your heart. It is wise to choose joy. It is wise to honor your riches. It is wise to focus on and grow the blessings of your life.

Because gratitude is about recognition.

Use your power of focus to hone in on the beauty and on what makes your heart smile or sing. Recognize the spirit in your life. It’s all around you waiting to be noticed. In the words of Franz Kafka, “It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

Because gratitude is about receptivity.

Gratitude makes you receptive. It makes you concave. It makes you a vessel, waiting to be filled.  I carry a small notebook with me everywhere I go. In it, I write down song ideas as I hear them. I write down quotes I hear. I write down ideas for stage stories. As I do that, I become more receptive, and more ideas and songs come to me. It’s a tool that says to my subconscious, “Send more my way!” And the subconscious always responds.

Because gratitude is about creativity

Creativity is really all about attention. When I write a song, I build a relationship with that song. I spend time with it. I get to know it. I pay attention to it. Artists do the same thing with drawings. They spend time in rapt attention and the drawing is born.  Gratitude is the same way. It is a creative act to notice and pay attention to the moments of your life. Some days it’s an enormous act of creativity to even find things for which to be thankful.

Are we Truly Grateful People?

Gratitude is a heart issue; it is an attitude. Isn’t it amazing just how many things are heart issues! But back to the subject at hand. Gratitude is an emotion of the heart that is stimulated and stirred up by a benefit or something good that we receive from another. It produces a kind disposition towards the one from whom the favor has been received and a willingness to acknowledge and repay the benefit and when that is impossible the desire to see that individual happy, prosperous and blessed. It’s not passive either, gratitude is lively, active and vital to the individual who possesses it, in other words, everyone who comes in contact with a grateful person will know it! That’s right, they won’t be able to hide it because it will kind of spill over to those around them.

In many of our minds gratitude has been loosely defined as simply saying those two wonderful words ‘thank you’. We wrongly assume that practicing their use is all it takes to become grateful individuals. Grateful people definitely do say ‘thank you’, I in no way want to imply that they don’t, the problem is that although we have accurately connected saying ‘thank you’ to be a way of expressing gratitude, we do not have a firm grasp on the fact that ungrateful people can also use those same two words. They turn them into nothing more than a preprogrammed little phrase that is deftly used at appropriate intervals because it is the ‘socially proper’ thing to do. You see gratitude is not a set of words that we need to learn to use rather it is a heart attitude which spills over into every aspect of our lives including our words.

Gratitude is from the heart and overflows into all aspects of life.   

Cultivating gratitude improves attitudes and revolutionizes how we live. 

Gratitude improves how we interact with other people and the world. 

  • Gratitude is realizing no one can ever do it by themselves.

  • Gratitude is recognizing that we are part of  larger communities.

  • Gratitude is showing appreciation for even the little things.

  • Gratitude is letting people know you appreciate what they do.

  • Gratitude is acknowledging that no one owes you anything.

  • Gratitude is giving credit when and where credit is due.

  • Gratitude is taking new people and surprise things as gifts.

  • Gratitude is understanding how the world impacts our lives.

Better Mood from Gratitude: 2 Minute Exercise

Use this simple gratitude exercise to put yourself in a better mood, in as little as two minutes per week.  Really good moods are like gold dust. They bring optimism, laughter, creativity and sheer joie de vivre. Good moods help us bear all the daily irritations of life with good grace.  Psychological research agrees. Positive emotions are associated with greater creativity, increased problem-solving ability, and greater overall success in life.  Three recent studies support the use of gratitude in improving mood:

  • Emmons and McCullough (2003) were surprised to find that happiness could be increased by a simple gratitude exercise. Participants took the time to write down 5 things they were grateful for each week, for 10 weeks. At the end of the study this group were 25% happier than a comparison group who simply listed five events from the week.
  • Lyubomirsky et al. (2005) compared practicing gratitude three times a week with once a week. They found that only those who carried out the exercise once a week were happier. This suggests overdoing the gratitude is not beneficial – perhaps because of habituation.
  • Seligman, Steen, Park and Peterson (2005) carried out a randomized, placebo-controlled study. They followed participants up 6 months after they had begun carrying out a simple gratitude exercise and found they were happier and less depressed than a control group. In this study, though, participants initially wrote about what they were grateful for every day for a week.

The Exercise

The beauty of this exercise is that it’s so easy that it shouldn’t even be called exercise. All you need is enough time – as little as two minutes – to think of three things that you are grateful for: that benefit you and without which your life would be poorer. Then, if you’ve got time, you can think about the causes for these good things. And that’s it.  If you find it difficult to get going, here are some suggestions for things, but it’s better to think of your own:

I don’t have a headache today.

I had a good lunch.

I have my family.

My new socks keep my feet warm.

I made a joke and people laughed.

No grain of thankfulness is too small once you’ve exhausted the usual suspects.  You can try experimenting with carrying out this exercise weekly or even daily depending on how you feel. If the exercise starts to lose its power this could be because of habituation – try to be creative with your gratitude.

How Feelings of Gratitude Breed Happiness and Well-Being By Erin Skarda – November 25, 2010

If you need another reason to give thanks at the dinner table on Thursday, how’s this: people who maintain an “attitude of gratitude” tend to be happier and healthier than those who don’t, according to a lengthy and instructive article this week in the Wall Street Journal.

People who feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. Now a new study conducted by researchers at Hofstra University finds similar benefits of gratitude for adolescents as well.

Results showed that grateful students reported higher grades, more life satisfaction, better social integration and less envy and depression than their peers who were less thankful and more materialistic. Additionally, feelings of gratitude had a more powerful impact on the students’ lives overall than materialism.

What the bulk of the research suggests is that gratitude should be chronic in order to make a lasting difference in well-being. Dr. Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and a pioneer in gratitude research, told the WSJ that in order to reap all of its benefits, feeling gratitude must be ingrained into your personality, and you must frequently acknowledge and be thankful for the role other people play in your happiness: “The key is not to leave it on the Thanksgiving table,” he said.

One simple way to cultivate gratitude is to literally count your blessings. Keep a journal and regularly record whatever you are grateful for that day. Be specific. The real benefit comes in changing how you experience the world. Look for things to be grateful for, and you’ll start seeing them.

Using negative, derogatory words — even as you talk to yourself — can darken your mood, as well. Fill your head with positive thoughts, express thanks and encouragement aloud and look for something to be grateful for, not criticize, in those around you, especially loved ones  Whether or not you can keep up your attitude of gratitude over the long-term, at least it can help you get through this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Key to Happiness is Gratitude, and Men May Be Locked Out

Let yourself be grateful—it’s the best way to achieve happiness according to several new studies conducted by Todd Kashdan, associate professor of psychology at George Mason University.  Gratitude, the emotion of thankfulness and joy in response to receiving a gift, is one of the essential ingredients for living a good life, Kashdan says. Kashdan’s most recent paper, which was recently published online at the Journal of Personality, reveals that when it comes to achieving well-being, gender plays a role. He found that men are much less likely to feel and express gratitude than women.

“Previous studies on gratitude have suggested that there might be a difference in gender, and so we wanted to explore this further—and find out why. Even if it is a small effect, it could make a huge difference in the long run,” says Kashdan.

In one study, Kashdan interviewed college-aged students and older adults, asking them to describe and evaluate a recent episode in which they received a gift. He found that women compared with men reported feeling less burden and obligation and greater levels of gratitude when presented with gifts. In addition, older men reported greater negative emotions when the gift giver was another man.

“The way that we get socialized as children affects what we do with our emotions as adults,” says Kashdan. “Because men are generally taught to control and conceal their softer emotions, this may be limiting their well-being.”

Kashdan says that if he had to name three elements that are essential for creating happiness and meaning in life it would be meaningful relationships, gratitude, and living in the present moment with an attitude of openness and curiosity. His book “Curious?,” which outlines ways people can enhance and maintain the various shades of well-being, was released in April 2009 with HarperCollins.

Make a Gratitude Adjustment By Lauren Aaronson – March 01, 2006

A psychology professor at the University of Michigan, Chris Peterson regularly gave his students an unusual homework assignment. He asked them to write a “gratitude letter,” a kind of belated thank-you note to someone in their lives. Studies show such letters provide long-lasting mood boosts to the writers. Indeed, after the exercise, Peterson says his students feel happier “100 percent of the time.”

Gratitude is a sentiment we’d all do well to cultivate, according to positive psychologists, mental health clinicians and researchers who seek to help everyone create more joy in life. Feeling thankful and expressing that thanks makes you happier and heartier—not hokier.

The biggest bonuses come from experiencing gratitude habitually, but natural ingrates needn’t despair. Simple exercises can give even skeptics a short-term mood boost, and “once you get started, you find more and more things to be grateful for,” says Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher at the University of California at Davis.

Gratitude needn’t be directed at another person to hit its mark. Take just a few minutes each day to jot down things that make you thankful, from the generosity of friends to the food on your table or the right to vote. After a few weeks, people who follow this routine “feel better about themselves, have more energy and feel more alert,” Emmons says. Feeling thankful even brings physical changes, studies show. List-keepers sleep better, exercise more and gain a general contentment that may counteract stress and contribute to overall health.

For people who want to activate their gratitude, but feel slightly silly about the exercises, Peterson advises, “fake it until you can make it.” Say “thank you” enough, he reasons, and your mind will fall in line with your words. Think you don’t have anyone to thank? Gratitude “doesn’t depend on circumstances,” Emmons says.

You can be grateful for just about anything that you’ve received in part because of someone or something else. You may feel grateful to your neighbor for a car pool, to luck for meeting your spouse, to nature for a scenic view or to fate or a higher power for your safety. Thankfulness helps you see that you’re an object of love and care. Says Emmons: “Your self-esteem is bolstered when you say, ‘Hey, people have done things for me.'”

A conscious focus on gratitude may also remind you of unassuming pluses that get lost in the ups and downs of a busy life. “The most important blessings are the ones that are most consistent,” such as family, health and home, says Philip Watkins, an Eastern Washington University psychologist. “And those are the ones we take for granted.” Grateful reflection helps you pick out and savor the good in life, even if the good isn’t flashy.

What’s more, gratitude turns your attention to what you do have instead of what you don’t, Watkins suggests. Consistently ungrateful people tend to think that material goods, such as a big-screen TV, or winning the lottery will make them happy. On the other hand, people who recognize the blessings they have tend to think they’ll get happiness from things like fulfilling relationships—which, research shows, are the real sources of satisfaction. Because grateful people don’t fixate on money or material goods, they may cut back on envy and nagging comparisons with the Joneses.

When individuals start a daily gratitude journal, they begin to feel a greater sense of connectedness to the world. “The differences are noticed by others,” Emmons says. “People who know them say they’re more helpful.” Thankfulness may launch a happy cycle in which rich friendships bring joy, which gives you more to be grateful for, which fortifies your friendships once again.

Even a simple “thank you” spurs people to act in compassionate ways they might not otherwise consider. People thanked for giving directions help more willingly in the future, social workers who get thank-you letters visit their clients more often, and diners whose waiters write “thanks” on the check give bigger tips.  Call it corny, but gratitude just may be the glue that holds society together.

Happiness = Gratitude + Generosity + Sincerity By Shawn Parr June 1, 2011

Where there is happiness you will find success  The path to happiness can be found in the simple, yet powerful, equation of mixing a healthy dose of generosity toward others, with equal parts of gratitude for the good things in your life.  Those who show their appreciation and gratitude attract the admiration and interest of those around them, and grateful people stand out in a crowd with their intriguing and infectious energy, attracting interest, curiosity, conversation and friendship. After “I love you,” saying “Thank you” is probably the most affirming and energizing statement that we can use toward one another, especially when it’s combined with total sincerity.

Together, these powerful, positive words help to fuel a grateful and happy heart. Brands that show their appreciation and gratitude inspire and attract loyal fans with a natural curiosity to engage more actively.  This is quite the opposite from individuals and brands who are self-centered and focused on self-promotion. They lack the depth of relationship to move from a fan to a real friend.

Buy your friend a coffee instead of yourself. It will make you a happier person.

Recent studies found the Uncommon Sense principle that “It’s better to give than to receive” provides a rich ground for innovation in relationship development and customer retention. Spending money on others or giving to charity puts a bigger smile on your face than buying things for yourself, according to Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School. Most people think that if you make more money you are going to be a lot happier, but it actually doesn’t have a huge impact on overall happiness. How you spend does make a tangible difference.  Regardless of income, the people who spent money on others reported an increase in personal happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not.

Do what you say and say what you do.

The literal meaning of sincerity is a virtue where we do what we say we’re going to do. It’s speaking and acting truthfully. How hard is that? For many it’s really hard to follow through on. Sincerity and authenticity are the closest relatives and brands and the people who manage them are striving to be more authentic. There’s an opportunity to deliver on both with energy and determination that shows caring and consideration for others, helping to differentiate one brand from another.

Uncommon Sense guide to happiness:

  • Say “thank you” often and mean it when you say it – people can tell the difference.

  • Show your gratitude with actions and items of appreciation.

  • Look for new ways to demonstrate generous giving.

  • It’s much more rewarding to give than to receive.

  • Do something specific for people in need at least once a week.

  • Tell the truth always.

  • Do what you say and say what you do.

Which Comes First: Happiness or Gratitude?

When you’re happy, you become thankful. When you’re thankful, you become happy. As I discussed the other day, gratitude really has many positive benefits and I honestly believe that it’s one of those things that brings out happiness within me — no matter what. Even on the worst day, in the worst mood, if I start thinking about the things I have going for me in my life, all of the things I’m grateful for, I instantly feel uplifted. The trick here is actually getting myself to a place where I’m able to let those grateful thoughts in…Sometimes my mind just isn’t in the mood for them! Gratitude always, always, always brings a smile to my face once I can get myself to a place where I’ve opened my mind to it. …

Are happy people grateful or are grateful people happy? It seems to make sense that happy people would be grateful for their happiness (and for all of the things that make them happy), but it also makes sense that people who are very grateful would be very happy. On the flip side, we can think about unhappiness and ungratefulness. Are those who are ungrateful unhappy? Or are those who are unhappy ungrateful because they feel they have nothing to be grateful for? I suppose one could spend some serious time thinking about and researching this (and I’m sure many already have!), but for me it seems to be one of those chicken-or-the-egg situations. I don’t know which one came first, but I do know that both elements are pretty necessary.  Happiness and gratitude are two things that, like the chicken and her egg, go hand in hand with one another. Whichever came first isn’t necessarily important; what matters is that they build on one another and they enhance one another.

The Link Between Gratitude and Happiness By Elizabeth Scott, May 1, 2008

There’s an old adage that it’s more important to want what you have than to have what you want. I love that phrase, and think of it often, as I see people experience stress over not having what they want. I’ve also sometimes wondered if the truth behind the adage could hold up to scientific scrutiny.

Apparently, psychologist Jeff Larsen from Texas Tech University and Amie McKibban of Wichita State University wondered the same thing, and set out to test the theory! They studied college students and their attitudes toward one major possession: their cars. Students with cars were asked to rate how much they wanted the car they had; students without cars rated how much they wanted the car they didn’t have.

The results, published in the April issue of Psychological Science, prove what we all know: that people can become accustomed to what they have, appreciate their possessions less as the novelty wears off, and therefore derive less happiness from their possessions as time goes by. However, they also found that it’s possible to continue to want the things you have, and that doing so can, in fact, bring greater happiness! In short, they proved that happiness is both wanting what you have and having what you want.

“Simply having a bunch of things is not the key to happiness,” Larsen said in a prepared statement. “Our data show that you also need to appreciate those things you have. It’s also important to keep your desire for things you don’t own in check.”

So how does one maintain an attitude of gratitude for possessions already owned? In my experience, maintaining a gratitude journal is key. If you write down what you’re grateful for at the end of the day, you get into the habit of noticing what you appreciate and why, strengthening your appreciation for what you have in your daily life. It also takes the focus away from things you want but don’t yet have. If you don’t keep a journal, there are other ways of developing an attitude of gratitude, which is so important for happiness and stress relief.

Also, let’s not forget the other finding in this research: while happiness is connected with wanting what you have, having what you want factors in as well, so don’t give up on your goal-setting! Going after a goal (with the right attitude) can be exciting, and achieving what you want has its own obvious rewards. Here are some effective goal setting tips to help you find happiness, get what you want, and do so with less stress.

Quotes about Thanksgiving and God

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. ~ Meister Eckhart

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do. – Victor Hugo

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. ~ Aldous Huxley

Every professional athlete owes a debt of gratitude to the fans and management, and pays an installment every time he plays. He should never miss a payment. – Bobby Hull

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day. ~ Robert Caspar Lintner

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence. ~ William Jennings Bryan

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~ Thornton Wilder

Ancient Wisdom about Gratitude

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them. ~ Chinese Proverb

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. ~ Native American Saying

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart. ~ Seneca

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. — Cicero

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues. ~ Cicero

O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness. ~ William Shakespeare

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~ Epictetus

Only a stomach that rarely feels hungry scorns common things. ~ Horace

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. ~Jean Baptiste Massieu

All that we behold is full of blessings. ~ William Wordsworth

PLEASE Leave comments about why you feel grateful?

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