You may not realize that noticing the good things in your life can make you happier. If you’re striving to improve all the time, always reaching for that next goal, always looking for the next foothold on the success ladder, it’s easy to only focus on what’s lacking in your life. But focusing on the negative or what’s still to do sets you up for dissatisfaction, and who wants to be unhappy all the time?
Reminding yourself to be grateful for the good things in your life is one of the best acts of self-care you can do for yourself. You’ll be approaching life from a much more positive viewpoint so that your daily tasks and goals will feel joyful and less burdensome.
Here are six ways practicing gratitude can make for a happier life.
- It sets up a virtuous circle
The more you look at the good things in your life, the more you’ll see. And by focusing on things that make you happy, you’ll become more optimistic and expect to see good things! And then you’ll be more grateful for those things and so on. Before you know it, you will have set up a lovely self-fulfilling cycle of positivity and happiness.
- You’ll have more friends
People who are cheerful and optimistic tend to have more friends. Think of Big Bird and Oscar, the Grouch – who’s more fun to be around? Who has more friends? The person who’s cheery and singing, or the grouchy complainer?
- You’ll be more resilient
When you are grateful for what you already have it sets you up to be better able to deal with hard times when they come along. You’ll become accustomed to looking for the good things you already have, instead of yearning for more and being dissatisfied with the present.
- You live longer
Perhaps the most surprising benefit of practicing gratitude is the impact it can have on your physical health. Gratitude primes you for happiness and being happy sets off a whole train of positive chemicals interactions in your brain and body. Instead of the stress chemical cortisol, which can lead to inflammation and poor immune response, your happy brain will increase levels of dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals lead to lower blood pressure and heart rate and improved immune function.
Research has shown that happier people live longer, healthier lives. If you are happy you set yourself up for a better, more positive aging experience. Unhappy people are more prone to chronic illness, depression and even earlier death.
Practicing gratitude and increasing your happiness will make your life healthier, longer and more enjoyable!