Well, look at the bright side… We’ve all heard this advice before, and if we haven’t, there’s a good chance we’ve said it to a friend who is in need of some cheering up.
But, what good does it do to look at the bright side? Does it actually make us feel better or does it just temporarily distract us from the less desirable emotions we are feeling at the time? This is not to say that we should only focus on the positive – that is to deny a part of ourselves and this world we live in; without the dark we would not be aware of the light.
When we count our blessings versus our burdens, however, it can actually increase our mood – by up to 25%, according to the following study. When we are constantly thinking about what is going wrong, we aren’t leaving much room for thinking what is going right. By switching up your thought process, you will eventually start noticing your blessings more regularly and less of the burdens. If you are someone who believes in the law of attraction, this means you will be attracting more positivity into your life.
Practicing Gratitude Can Increase Your Overall Happiness
A study conducted by Emmons and McCollough in 2003 outlined the positive impact that practicing gratitude can have on our well-being. Research was carried out with three experimental groups over a 10-week period, Dr. Robert A. Emmons described the study in his new book ‘thanks!’
- The first group was asked to write down five things they were grateful for that had happened in the last week for each of the 10 weeks of the study. This was called the gratitude condition.
- The second group was asked to write down five daily annoyances or hassles from the previous week. This was the hassles condition.
- The third group was asked to simply listed five events that had occurred in the last week, but not told to focus on either positive or negative aspects. This was the events or control condition.
The types of things people listed in the grateful condition included:
- Sunset through the clouds.
- The chance to be alive
- The generosity of friends
- The right to vote
And in the hassles condition:
- Hard to find parking
- Burned my macaroni and cheese
- No money for gas
Before the experiment began, participants had kept daily journals to keep track of their moods, physical health, and general attitudes. These observations were then used to provide a comparison for after the 10 week experiment was finished.
The results of the study concluded that happiness levels were up by 25%. Those who were in the gratitude condition were more optimistic about the future, they felt better about their lives, and they even did on average about 1.5 more hours of exercise per week than those who where in the hassles or events condition. It’s amazing to think that all of this can be achieved just from focusing on your blessings rather than your burdens.
How Can You Implement More Gratitude Into Your Daily Life?
Depending on your current state, sometimes it can feel difficult to find things that you are grateful for. You may be going through a challenging experience, a break-up, the loss of a loved one, financial insecurity, but despite these challenges, there are always things to be grateful for. The more you make the effort to take note of these things, the easier this will become. It becomes a habit; much like the contrary, only focusing on the burdens in your life becomes a habit as well.
Who’s up for a challenge?! I challenge anyone reading this to start keeping a gratitude journal. Everyday, for one month, write down one thing that you are grateful for. It can be so simple! If you’ve had a particularly bad day, but your dog came and licked your nose you could write that down. You can literally put anything at all that you are grateful to have in your life.
If you have trouble sticking to these types of tasks, you can try something that has worked well for me in the past –enlist a friend. Find a friend who might be interested in trying this challenge out as well. Everyday send a text to your friend telling them at least one thing that you are grateful for, and in turn, they will send you one thing they are grateful for as well. This way you will hold yourself accountable. And if one forgets, hopefully the other will remember.
At the end of the month, reflect back on the month and see if your mood has changed or if you have felt more inspired to treat yourself well, and if overall your happiness has increased.
Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life
You see, life is all about perception. As Oprah Winfrey has said:
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
If all you are focusing on is what is going wrong, then you will never see what is going right. Change your focus, see what happens!
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