In a recent Harvard University study on gratitude, researchers found that after 10 weeks of expressing gratitude daily, individuals in the study were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They also identified 3 ways to express gratitude:
- Prior Happiness Events – Focus on positive memories. When you reflect on the past, focus only on the good and not the bad. Good picks you up, bad drags you down.
- Current Happiness Events – Focus on living in the present – enjoying current, real-time experiences. Living in the present means not letting anything distract you while you are enjoying time with family, friends, on vacation, holiday, etc.
- Future Happiness Events – Focus on a positive outlook for your future. Visualize your ideal life; what it will look like, the house you’ll live in, where you’ll live, how much money you’ll earn, how much money you’ll have, etc.
When you focus on being grateful, it opens up the mind.
You are literally using 100% of your brain when you have a positive mental outlook.
Envy, the opposite of gratitude, puts you in a negative mindset and closes off much of the prefrontal cortex (executive command and control center of the brain). It’s virtually impossible to succeed with a negative mental outlook.
Being grateful is the gateway to happiness, because it forces you to focus on past, present and future happiness events, rather than negative events.