Thank goodness it’s Friday! Life seems so wonderful when Friday rolls around. Getting out of bed is easier on Friday mornings. People at the office are cheerier on Fridays. What if you could experience the sense of optimism, anticipation, and happiness that comes from that “TGIF feeling” almost anytime? Well, you can! Before you pessimists out there begin to tune out, give me a couple of minutes.
You can harness that TGIF feeling just by making a concerted effort to be thankful more often. For years, psychologists have studied negative emotions and their causes. Only in recent years has the study of positive emotions gained more attention. Studies have revealed that thankfulness and gratitude are strong determinants of a person’s happiness and well-being. As children, we are often taught to be thankful for such simple but important things as food on the table or a loving family. As adults, we often forget these lessons during our busy lives. Instead, we are more preoccupied with relatively trivial matters such as getting granite countertops or the latest high-definition television for the house. It often takes a tragedy or serious adversity to bring the important things back into focus. A woman who cannot bear children can appreciate how wonderful a family would be. A man who loses a leg to amputation realizes how precious simple mobility is. You get the picture.
Why can’t we learn to be appreciative and grateful for what we have? For many, the reason is that we always want more. It is natural to want more for ourselves and our loved ones. Certainly, being thankful does not mean we must stop striving to improve our lives. However, in striving for more, we need to be conscious of the things we already have in our lives and learn to appreciate them. The happiest people aren’t those who have the most but those who value what they already have. Like any trait or skill, thankfulness is something that we can develop through consistent practice until it becomes a habit. Whether you need to keep a written gratitude list or set aside two minutes each day to mentally think of things to be grateful for, the key is to practice being thankful until it becomes second nature. By making thankfulness a habit, you will undoubtedly experience more happiness and serenity in your life.