Gratitude, Happiness & Altruism

Note saying practice gratitude daily

“Never think that one kind word is wasted!”  Caroline Myss

Happiness & Gratitude

Many of us have a sense that we’ll be happy when we’ve achieved something.  Such as “I’ll be happy when I’ve … got my kids sorted … got the level of income I want … got rid of my debt  … achieved the weight I want to be … got the partner that loves me … got the right job…

The list can be endless, but happiness is truly about the here and now.  I remember being in the midst of a humdinger argument with a family member – loud voices, accusations, frustrations & resentments.  It was going nowhere with no resolution in sight, until I remembered a Gratitude Tool and acknowledged that, despite this argument, how grateful I was to actually have this person in my life!  It was an instant diffuser and stopped me in my tracks.

I suddenly got to see ‘the big picture – the real meaning in life, and realised how inconsequential this argument was – it was just a moment in time, a rite of passage.  In fact, I could be grateful for the argument because it was actually a tool to helping me raise my awareness & understanding of life.  What an emotional leveller!  The person I had been arguing with was very bewildered and asked me why I’d suddenly stopped arguing.  When I explained, we started to laugh!  And instead of sharing conflict we shared joy!   A resolution wasn’t immediately reached, but we calmed down and were able to discuss things while acknowledging each other’s point-of-views.

Gratitude

Gratitude is a huge saviour when it comes to transforming the most negative and/or stressful of situations.  It’s a powerful and incredibly under-rated tool in supporting our wellbeing.

It can transform our attitudes, our lives and existences.   We can often become stuck in repetitive negative patterns of thoughts & behaviours, but a very quick (& often unconsidered) way out is to stop focusing on the problem, and consider what you can be grateful for?  It quickly refocuses the mind, helps us to relax about the problem more, and in that state of mind we can very often discover solutions we hadn’t thought of!

Altruism

This thought brings to mind a study that was performed recently in California.  A group of people who were receiving medication for depression were divided into 2 groups.  Group 1 continued with their medication.  Group 2 continued with their medication but enlisted as volunteers in programs to help others in need of support – homeless, rehabilitating prisoners, ex-junkies, kids from challenged backgrounds, battered mothers etc.  At the end of 3 months, Group 1 still needed the same levels of medication for depression, while the results in Group 2 showed that many were no longer needing medication, and most of those that did, were now able to manage with significantly lower doses.

The insight here, is that those people who were able to find more meaning, purpose and joyful intention in their lives, were able to significantly reprogram their neural pathways and brain patterns in a physiological way to become healthier and happier.

A Point to Ponder

A lot of you readers will be familiar with the benefits of writing a “Gratitude Journal” each evening before you go to sleep in which you list as many things as possible for which you are grateful for that day.  If writing a Gratitude Journal appeals to you, then may I suggest that you now take it a step further by trying to include in your list at least one thing that you have done that day to help someone else.  And if it was done anonymously, even better!  Helping others is a powerful tool for well-being, and you will also have helped someone else too!

“Heaven works with Altruism” – Caroline Myss