Happiness and gratitude can do a body good

Benefits of being happy

Most people want to be happy. Yet, it’s common to hear people putting happiness off to some elusive future date. I’ll be happy when… (you fill in the blank).

Why wait? Start now, you’ll be glad you did.Our happiness matters, as happy people tend to:

• Be healthier

• Have better relationships

• Experience greater vigour and energy

• Have a better sense of humour

• Live longer

Not surprisingly, happiness affects both the quality and the quantity of our lives.

Cultivating greater happiness in our lives isn’t as difficult as you might think. Happiness isn’t contingent on external circumstances—it’s a inside job.

Interestingly, environmental circumstances only account for 10% of our happiness, while our genetics and personalities are 50% responsible. Yet, we don’t have to be victim to these factors.

Our power abides in the remaining 40%, in which we are able to influence our happiness with intentional activities. There are simple, quick, and easy things we can do to increase our own levels of happiness.

Happiness and gratitude are hot-topics in the research world. Interestingly, multiple researchers have found a strong positive correlation between happiness and gratitude.

Back to the riddle of what comes first: are we more grateful because we’re happy, or are we happier because we’re grateful?

Multiple studies reveal one sure-fire way to increase happiness is to, first, be grateful.

Practicing gratitude boosts the production of neurochemicals and hormones that support well-being. Our brains and our bodies benefit from practicing gratitude.

We can re-wire our brains for gratitude. When we engage in gratitude practices over time, there are lasting changes in the brain, particularly in areas associated with decision-making and learning.

Even if we can’t find anything to be grateful for, the mere practice of stopping to look for something to be grateful for creates a shift. A simple, yet powerful practice is pausing daily to list three good things from the day. Set a reminder on your phone to help you remember to pause and canvas your day for what’s been good about your day.

Or, you can up the power of gratitude to improve happiness. While merely listing what we’re grateful for is helpful, thinking of why we’re grateful for the items on our list enhances the benefits we receive.

Try this out for yourself, paying attention to how you feel inside. Think of something you’re grateful for, pause for a moment, and notice how you feel. Then list the reasons why you’re grateful. How do you feel now? And what we appreciate grows, it appreciates.

According to scientist and author, Joe Dispenza, gratitude is the ultimate state of receivership. We receive and experience our good when we acknowledge it and are grateful. For me, life has become a gift that keeps on giving.

Don’t save gratitude for just the big or fancy stuff. I practice gratitude for some of the most basic things that are easily overlooked, such as a warm and comfy bed to sleep in, the sunshine, or new growth on the trees.

The use of my gratitude journal improved dramatically when I started storing it on my pillow with a pen tucked inside. I can’t forget like I used to. Considering the many blessings of my life just before going to sleep is the perfect way to both start my day and to enter dreamland.

Even my most challenging days are filled with reasons to be grateful, and the focus on negative thoughts is reduced as I remember to look for the good. What we focus on increases in our experience and why would I cause myself to suffer by dwelling in what’s difficult?

Another of my favourite gratitude practices is the old-fashioned thank-you card. I keep a stock on hand. I love to send thank you cards, all jazzed-up with colourful and fun stickers.

I take every opportunity I can to genuinely express gratitude to others who shine goodness and support into my life. I never want to take them for granted and I want them to know the difference they make.

Gratitude is such a simple practice, it’s portable and it’s a proven method to increase happiness.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress or to life. We are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 44 years and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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