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Gratitude Leads to Happiness: Here’s How

Gratitude Leads to Happiness: Here’s How

Gratitude, being nice, thinking positively — these are all things that are easier to talk about than to practice. Being grateful is a habit that’s worth cultivating. Try out some of the following gratitude exercises and, with time, you will feel more gratitude in your everyday life.

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”

Denis Waitley

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1. Write a daily gratitude list

Before you start your day, at the end of each day or whenever you have a spare five to ten minutes, write a list of ten things you’re grateful for. They don’t have to be big things — just look around you and ask yourself, in this moment, what am I grateful for? Clothes to keep me warm, a hot cup of tea, good company … ?  If you do this every day, I can assure you that after a few weeks, or even days,  you will feel much happier .

2. Practice mindfulness for 10 minutes a day

Try this one for at least a week. Set 10 minutes aside each day and really focus on where you are in the moment. Look around you. What do you see, feel, hear? When we live life in a strict routine, we can slip into acting on autopilot which can leave us feeling numb, ungrateful and bitter about life. Practicing mindfulness takes you out of this and helps you to see life in a brighter, more pleasant light.

3. Observe life objectively

This one is certainly easier said than done, but make a conscious effort to be as objective as possible. Is the person you work with really that annoying or are you blowing matters way out of proportion? Take a step back and try to view situations from the outside rather than taking everything personally. In the long run you’ll feel a much deeper sense of gratitude in your daily life as a result.

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4. Reflect on your day before going to sleep

Before you go to sleep each night, thing about something great that happened to you in the day that just passed. Even if you think nothing amazing happened, think of something small you were grateful for. If you can’t think of anything, keep searching. Even if it’s ‘I love this pillow,” hold that thought and spend several minutes reflecting on how grateful you are, then let yourself drift peacefully to sleep.

5. Observe your thoughts for a week

What do you think about for the majority of the time? What do you spend most of your time talking to others about? Are you aware of this? A lot of the time, we drift through life with no idea where we’re putting most of our energy. Spend one week objectively observing your thoughts without judgement. You might like to write them down, then reflect on the exercise after the week is up. If you spend the majority of your time complaining, make a mental note to change your thinking habits. With time, you’ll find yourself being less negative and more objectively positive. Remember, thoughts act as affirmations when repeated enough. Be mindful of what you’re intentionally or unintentionally manifesting.

6. Replace complaints with compliments

You don’t have to go overboard with this one — after all sometimes a person just needs to vent — but next time you open your mouth to say something unconstructive or hurtful, reverse it. Aim to give a compliment a day. You’ll feel happier and more grateful.

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7. Read Man’s Search for Meaning

This is the ultimate book if you want to know how to be grateful. Viktor Frankl, a world-renowned psychologist, who was trapped inside a concentration camp during WW2, helps us all to see that life is a choice and that even in the most dire of circumstances, you always have the freedom to choose your mindset. It’s a powerful book that really makes you reconsider your place in life. If you don’t feel more grateful after reading this, then I’m not sure what else to suggest.

8. Meditate on gratitude

Close your eyes.  Start by focusing on your breath to calm your mind, then meditate on something you’re truly grateful for or someone you care deeply about. This could be a  memory you’re glad to have had or something in the present moment — anything to bring your mind back to a state of gratitude. The key here, as with all meditation practices, is consistency . Spending five minutes meditating each day can make a big improvement in your happiness.

9. Write a gratitude letter

Write a letter expressing gratitude for someone or something that is annoying to you.  Try to be grateful for what this situation is teaching you–find the lesson in it.  this will help to turn your thinking process in a positive direction, and will help you to accept and learn from things you might otherwise reject.

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10. Realize that gratitude is a choice

You’re in the driver’s seat of your life, and you can choose how to react and how to think.  If you’re committed to positive thoughts and attitudes, you will be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.

Featured photo credit: Young happy woman relaxing on green grass. via shutterstock.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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