How to feel Happier in Just One Minute
‘Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others’
When you’re feeling stressed, frustrated, dissatisfied ask yourself this. Am I thinking about what’s wrong? Or what’s right? The answer to this question is tremendously important. And your happiness depends on it.
So much of our lives are spent finding fault. With ourselves, our lives, with others. Without even knowing it we criticise, stress, complain, judge. We strive for more things, better relationships, different jobs. And where does it get us? It gets us down, that’s where.
Cultural and media messages don’t help. Advertising creates needs and desires that we didn’t know we had. Social media makes other people’s lives seem better than ours, and we feel bad about ourselves. So we strive for more.
How to change this in just one minute? Gratitude, the act of counting your blessings, not your troubles. Here’s how it works.
Right now I’m sitting in a café, it’s hot and the door is wide open to the street. And there’s a man with a drill outside, so loud it’s right in my head. And now the music in the café seems too much and the chatting of others…I can’t think. I don’t like noise, and there’s too much of it, and now I’m hearing it everywhere. I’m going to have to leave, and now I’m cross, because I’ve just settled down. I’m tense and clenching my jaw, and feeling irritated
And here’s the flip of the coin. With great effort I drag my attention away from the noise (I may feel tense, but having a good moan also feels good) and make a gratitude list.
I am thankful for…
o Being in a position to write this in a sunny, bustling cafe
o You, for giving your time to read this
o The other people in this café who are just being themselves and without whom I would be on my own
o Being able to afford to buy this cup of coffee
o Having friends and family who are bursting with love and integrity
o For having a job that is infinitely interesting and humbling
o The man outside with his drill who has given me the unexpected opportunity to be grateful
How do I feel now? My jaw has relaxed. I feel calmer. Connected. Happier. I really do.
Of course, things can get much harder than a man outside with a drill. Life is full of painful experiences that take us to dark and frightening places. Whatever it is you’re struggling with, take a minute to turn your attention towards the small or big things that are good in your life. It may feel hard, but the rewards will be worth it.
You don’t need any thing other than willingness. In your head, on paper, make a list of things that you are grateful for in this moment. Try making a habit of it, every morning spend one minute doing this. Exercise your brain this way and it will become a habit.
If you need any further convincing for the benefits of gratitude, research has shown that it can increase happiness by as much as 25%, improve sleep, enhance decision making skills, strengthen relationships, decrease materialism and increase optimism. That’s not bad for what can amount to just a minute a day.
Image credit: Gisela Giardino