Happy: 15 Life-Changing Steps

February 1, 2020

1. Choose to Be Grateful

It may seem cheesy, but gratitude is a part of being happy that you have complete control over. It is so easy to complain about all the little things out of your control that frustrate you, especially if you work around a job with other people complaining about the same things.

Instead, focus on the things you can control. Start with your own thoughts!

Try spending five minutes every morning saying or writing down everything you are grateful for. Or, as part of healing prayer, regularly thank God for everything you have. Just fostering gratitude opens up places of joy for all that you have walked through and all the blessings that you have.

This practice also helps bring attention to the things you are thankful for in your life that are going well. It’s easy to focus on the negatives sometimes; even research supports that “like any emotional state, feelings of joy, gratitude, interest, and contentment typically last only a matter of minutes…moreover, positive emotions are less intense and less attention-grabbing than negative emotions and are more quickly to diffuse.”

Being swept up in financial worries, a struggling relationship or a health concern is far too common, but when we make a point to reflect on what we do have, we reap the many mood-lifting benefits of gratefulness. Studies have shown that by practicing forming “gratitude lists,” we can actually noticeably alleviate worry and boost our mood.

Aim to do gratefulness practice every day if you can, either in the morning or before bed. Finding the “extraordinary in the ordinary” can lead to some serious positive changes in your life.

According to one study,

Gratitude is an important human strengths that contributes to subjective happiness. Grateful individuals are especially appreciative of the contribution of others to their happiness… Results imply reciprocal relationships among gratitude, subjective happiness, and good social relationships. Consequently, compared with unhappy people, happy people report close and satisfying relationships and feel more gratitude in their lives.

2. Choose to Forgive

We know from studies that a major cause of depression stems from a lack of forgiving others. When we hold resentment or anger against someone that we haven’t yet forgiven, we are stuck in the past.

One of the key traits that leads to happiness is living in the present moment as much as possible, instead of harping on uncontrollable events that have already taken place. If forgiveness is holding you back from experiencing joy here and now, then it’s time to release the anger you’re holding.

Ask yourself, is there anyone that I haven’t forgiven? Even yourself? Sometimes, even if we have forgiven someone in our mind, it takes a few times of practice to really forgive them in our hearts. Forgiveness isn’t just forgetting, but actually releasing them from a debt that they may truly owe us.

As the saying goes, refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Is any grudge worth damaging your own life and happiness?

Who is it that you need to forgive and let go of, so that you can move on and live your life to the fullest?

Keep in mind that forgiveness is an act of kindness and compassion. Kindness towards others takes us out of our own mind and away from our own worries, plus it’s also contagious and usually leads to even more kindness.

If you tend to be shy, often keep to yourself, or don’t know where you could potentially be of service, start small and keep in mind that every kind act and positive intention counts.

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