Happiness and gratitude go hand in hand. Gratitude leads to happiness. It is a common misconception that happiness must come first and gratitude follows. We all know people who have so much but are still unhappy. Likewise we all know people who have very little and are abundantly happy. True happiness does not come from having things or something/someone external from us. While things can bring us happiness, such happiness is only temporary. I recently saw a TED Talk featuring Brother David Steindl-Rast called "Want to be happy? Be grateful." The first time I saw it I thought it was good. The second time I saw it, preparing for this post, I discovered the brilliance in it. The TED Talk by Brother David is so powerful, and life changing, it deserves a couple of viewings. The TED Talk is included later in this post.
Brother David Steindl-Rast
Brother David is a Benedictine monk focusing on interfaith dialogue and the interaction between faith and science. Now 88 years old, Brother David travels the world spreading his message of expressing gratitude. A website called Gratefulness.org focuses and extends the work of Brother David. The website is very good and offers some excellent resources on happiness and being grateful.
According to Brother David, grateful living is the key. We need to be grateful and express gratefulness for the moment. As he says in a Huffington Post interview, we are not expected to be grateful for everything. It is not appropriate to express gratitude for violence, untimely death, war or greed. It is, however, the moment in time that we should be grateful. This moment gives us the opportunity for all things. We might take for granted our ability to walk. It is not until an injury or disease takes our ability to walk away that we realize how important it is.
When we pause for a moment and think about something to be grateful for, we are opening a world of opportunity for us. At any moment, we have the opportunity to do something good.
- We drive down the road and witness an accident. We have the opportunity to stop and provide assistance. We can be grateful for being there at that time to be of service to someone in need.
- As you walk out the door of your house or apartment, you can pause and be grateful that you have a place to live.
- As you put the key in your car, whether it is a beat-up 1989 Chevy or a new Mercedes, you can take a moment and be grateful that you have transportation.
- When you are at work with the phones ringing nonstop and your boss yelling at you to file your reports, you can take a moment and use that as an opportunity to give thanks for having a job in a tough economy when so many others are out of work.
Gratitude Leads to Happiness
As a student of personal development and always wanting to expand my awareness, I have been blessed with the opportunity to study from a lot of truly inspirational people. Recently I completed one-on-one coaching with Dr. Joe Vitale's Miracles Coaching Program. One of the weekly lesson plans focused entirely on the benefits of expressing gratitude. While the program started on clearing limiting beliefs, the gratitude lesson drove home the point that what we focus our mind on is what manifests in our life. Too often we focus on our problems, bad news of the day, gossip about a friend or co-worker, or simply what's wrong in the world. By replacing negativity with an expression of gratitude, we open the door to more of the good stuff coming into our lives.
[Tweet "If we focus our mind on what we are grateful for, how can we not be happy?"]
I try to express gratitude all day long. I don't care if it is raining, cold and windy, having to walk a ways to get to my car, I give thanks for the rain and the cold as I know it is giving us the water we need in that chilly season. As I write this it is Spring time and it is really easy to find things to be grateful for. It doesn't matter what season it is or time of day, each moment is a moment we can be grateful for something.
Stop, Look, Go - A Framework for Gratitude
Brother David has a good way we can be reminded to be grateful. He calls it Stop, Look, Go.
- Stop - take a moment or put up stop signs around the house as a reminder to express gratitude.
- Look - be present and aware of the moment. See, smell and experience what is going on.
- Go - take action is expressing gratitude or share your gratefulness with others.
When you are grateful, you are living in kindness, not violence or anger. When you are grateful, you are living in abundance, not scarcity.
"Want to be Happy? Be Grateful." TED Talk
Put it Into Motion
Watch the video above. Now, where can you put up some stop signs around your house, car or workplace that will remind you to be grateful?
Right now, read this through and then complete the exercise. Close your eyes. Sit or lay comfortably. Don't think about anything. Focus on the air going in and out of your nose. Do this for a couple minutes. Now, ask yourself what you are grateful for, or what you might be grateful for? After doing this for a minute or two, open your eyes, look around and ask yourself the same question.
Excellent times to do this is first thing in the morning or just as you are falling asleep. Once you do this a few times you'll find you can do this quickly during the day in just a moment or two.
So... what are you grateful for? Please share in the comment section below.