This past summer I decided to have a small dinner party. I planned on inviting six friends over, but as summer drew to a close I realized there were many other people I wanted to see. Before I knew it, my party had grown from six to thirty-five.
In order to accommodate all the guests, I needed to rent some tables and chairs. At the party rental shop, the salesclerk asked what the theme of the party was. I hadn’t even contemplated a theme, but I looked at her and the word just rolled off my tongue: “Gratitude.”
I try to live in a state of gratitude every day. It’s a natural state of bliss. I’ll admit it has taken some time to learn to be in this place, but I’m here now and so much happier because of it. When you live in a state of gratitude, there’s nothing you want or need; your life is complete.
Everyone at my party got along, and those who didn’t know each other were forming new relationships. The energy was rising. After the meal I asked everyone to mention one thing they were grateful for. Clearly, not everyone was comfortable with the task, but as we began to share, I witnessed something magical. We were connecting on a deeper level of trust, safety, peace, and happiness.
Connect to Something Larger Than Yourself
In a recently published article “The Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude,” Dr. Michael Craig Miller of Harvard Medical School explains:
“Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what a person receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, they usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves—whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”
Researchers who study gratitude find that it is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people:
- Feel more positive emotions
- Relish good experiences
- Improve their health
- Deal with adversity
- Build strong relationships
Gratitude, like mindfulness, is a practice we need to engage in daily. And expressing our gratitude is key: In his book Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Dr. Robert A. Emmons explains that participants in a study were found to be 25% happier after expressing their thankfulness routinely for a full ten weeks.
Our culture tends to focus on the negative. Bad feedback seems to have more impact on us than good. In fact, our brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Negative emotions make us think more, so we spend more time ruminating over the bad stuff. I helped my dinner guests rewire that tendency, and I’d like to help you, too.
Did I mention how grateful I am that you’re part of the Rewire Me community? Indeed, I am. Thank you!