The economy is terrible, gas prices are insane, and natural disasters seem to be increasing exponentially every year.
There’s plenty of uncertainty in the air these days, so in order to not be disappointed or let down, we assume the worst.
It’s good not to give your hopes up, right?
Better to be pleasantly surprised than to be sadly disappointed, some would say.
What the pessimist inside us doesn’t want us to see is all the positivity that’s happening around us.
Things like volunteers rescuing a baby elephant from a muddy ditch, window washers at a children’s hospital dressing up as Spider-Man, or the Air Canada flight that found a lost sailor in the Pacific.
There are plenty of positive events, stories, and accomplishments that happen every day in the world as well as our personal lives.
And ignoring the good in our lives is a big mistake.
Turns out, long term happiness stays fairly consistent.
Meaning whether you win the lottery or find out you have cancer, your happiness levels will likely come back to your normal level within 6 month's time.
So what do you do if you want to be happier longer?
You show gratitude. It’s the secret to increasing your happiness by as much as 25%.
Now that’s easier said than done, especially for us grumpy pessimists. So here are 7 tricks you can do to build your gratitude muscle.
- Fake it
Going from pessimist to optimist doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a little awkward at first.
It’s like asking Stalter and Waldorf, the grumpy old muppet guys to guest host Oprah for a day. It’s probably going to be a bit out of their comfort zone.
So start by faking it. List or name a few things everyone’s grateful for if you have to; food, shelter, friends, family, a job.
You’ll see it’s not so bad, it didn’t kill you, and you’re still as cool as you were before you participated in this “mumbo jumbo”.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal
Journals are an excellent tool to keep you motivated to finish your goals. Keep a little journal by your night stand to write down a few thoughts each day on what you are grateful for.
Think how you might feel reading through it a month later.
Or having it handy for when bad times may come. It can be a true source of strength when you least expect it.
- Practice With Others
It’s natural for us to need the support of others.
Whether it’s jumping off the high dive for the first time or performing in front of an audience, it tends to go better if we have someone we trust beside us.
If you have a family, you can practice gratitude with your spouse or kids. If you’re alone practice some gratitude exercises in the office. Or try it with a friend.
- Have 21 Days of 3 Grateful Moments
Habits have been documented to take about 21 days to establish. Using these tips should more than prepare you to make this habit stick.
But on top of gaining a healthy new habit, gratitude is shown to have other worthwhile benefits including helping with chronic health problems, lowering stress, and improving relationships.
- Serve Others
You sometimes don’t realize how blessed you are until you experience what others go through.
When hurricane Katrina hit, I was living in Galveston, Texas, an island in the Gulf of Mexico. We were prepared to sustain some major damage, and luckily were spared by the natural disaster.
However, many of our neighbors in New Orleans weren’t as fortunate. Many of them lost everything, and as a result, were evacuated to shelters in Texas nearby.
I took the opportunity to volunteer at the Superdome during this event and was incredibly humbled by how blessed I truly was.
Children walked around barefoot, people were trying to sleep on bleachers, and it was rare to see anyone with more than just the clothes on their back. I couldn’t even imagine what I would have done in their situation.
If you ever need a reminder of your blessings, go help those who’ve lost everything.
- Write Thank You Notes
Scientists predict Thank You cards will go extinct by the year 2050. Not really, but it feels that way with how easy it’s become to tweet, facebook, or email anyone you like in an instant.
But thank you cards are special. It’s one thing to post a comment on someone’s wall thanking them for a gift.
It’s another to take the time to buy a card, write your thoughts, and mail it to them.
- Practice Gratitude When Everything Turns for the Worst
The hardest times to be thankful are when you’re facing personal challenges, but these are also the most important times not to give up.
I experienced this as a child with cancer. My parents taught me to pray since I could speak, and one thing we always did in our prayers was express our thanks.
When I found out I had cancer at the age of 8 I already was prepared to get through it.
I still had many things to be grateful for such as my best friend and dog Blaze, a sister who became my bone marrow transplant match, and my Mom and Dad for spending months of their time in a hospital with me, and were there to do it again when I relapsed.
|Written on 10/29/2012 by Bryce Christiansen. Bryce is a Blogger/Marketer for a career happiness blog called Careertopia. Whether you are a pessimist or an optimist, introvert or extrovert, Careertopia is there to help you find, grow, and excel in a career that you actually like. Take their free ecourse “How to Find the Perfect Career Fit For Your Personality” today.|