Rick Foster and Greg Hicks set out on a three-year journey to study extremely happy people. In their book How We Choose to Be Happy, they found that there are nine choices happy people make. One of those nine is to practice Appreciation. The other of the nine choices includes: Intention, Accountability, Identification, Centrality, Recasting, Options, Giving, Truthfulness, and Synergy.
Happy people actively exercise gratitude and choose to live with an attitude of gratitude. They don’t buy into what geneticists say, that we have an unmovable “happiness set-point.”
The happiest people, according to behaviorists, can move beyond that biological set point through practices such as Yoga and gratitude meditation. In fact, many studies suggest that gratitude can be learned by anyone to transform our lives. This means that by actively practicing gratitude, we can actually raise our “happiness set-point,” regardless of the situation, and no matter the circumstance.
Appreciation makes us aware of the blessings present in our life moment to moment. There is always something to be grateful for if you are fully engaged in what’s happening right now instead of replaying the past or worrying about the future. Besides a higher happiness set point, other benefits of gratitude include:
- Feeling more connected (less lonely)
- Stronger immune system
- Improved emotional equilibrium
- Better sleep
- Increased energy
- More confidence in ourselves
- Deeper relaxation
- Decreased anxiety
- We are more attractive
- Increased creativity
- Easier bounce back from difficulty
To experience these benefits we must consciously choose to practice gratitude. Include one of these exercises in your life:
- Set your intention to maintain a Gratitude Journal for one week. Every morning, start your day with a simple gratitude exercise that involves writing down 3-10 things you are grateful for, both big and small.
- Set the timer for three minutes and sit still. Quietly think about all that you appreciate in a free-form stream of consciousness, without any editing. Don’t worry if it makes sense or not.
- For a week write one thank you note per day to tell someone how much you appreciate them and why.
- Practice self-appreciation. Take time for seven days in a row to write yourself a note of gratitude.
- Regular yoga practice can help your body both physically and mentally as it allows for a designated time of day to breathe, meditate, and focus on what you’re grateful for
You will be amazed at how effortless recognizing these moments of grace becomes. Taken together these small blessings cultivate a beautiful “just right” abundance of love and joy. What’s even better? Studies prove these gratitude exercises will increase your sense of well-being by at least 10%. Don’t take my word on it, or even believe the scientists behind these studies, try it and find out for yourself.
Love yourself, love your day, love your life!
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