Note from Managing Editor Allison Brickell: We hope you had a happy Thanksgiving! And while we’re on the subject of giving thanks, we want to point out that grateful isn’t a feeling we should experience only once every 365 days. As Alexander Green wisely notes below, you should let small, everyday things spark a sense of gratitude.
After all, there are so many things that can make a life worth living: good health, a loving family, close friends, creative passions, a great cup of coffee…
At the end of the day, you’re already richer than you think.
Would you like to become exponentially richer in less than four minutes?
That may sound improbable – even ludicrous. But you can make it happen.
In the process, you’ll also sleep better, improve your health and increase your “happiness set point” by up to 25%.
Because I’m about to reveal the transformative, life-changing, scientifically proven benefits of feeling and expressing gratitude on a daily basis.
Many people – perhaps most – wait for special occasions to feel grateful.
Like when they graduate, or get that raise or promotion, or finally pay off the mortgage.
That’s a mistake. You should let everyday things – small things – spark a sense of gratitude.
The weather is fine. The meal is delicious. That rainbow is glorious. The grandkids are precious. That stranger was so kind.
You don’t have to wait for an opportunity to feel grateful. You have the power to savor the feeling every day. You only need to wake up to it.
No doubt you have problems, perhaps serious ones. Health problems. Financial problems. Relationship problems.
Welcome to the real world.
Feeling grateful doesn’t mean everything in your life is swell. It doesn’t require you to be oblivious to what’s wrong with the nation or the world.
It simply means you take three or four minutes every day – not just a few seconds – to contemplate what’s right with your life.
Author Kurt Vonnegut used to talk about his beloved “Uncle Alex.” (No relation.)
Whenever a moment was particularly sweet – even if it was just drinking lemonade under a shady tree in the summertime – he’d say aloud, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”
If I’m out with family members or friends and one of them says something like this, I always feel like someone just hit the “Refresh” button.
I take a breath, look around and say, “Yeah, how right you are.”
Yet we let moments like this pass every day without noticing.
Change that. Look for opportunities to make a positive assessment, to recognize just how good it is to be alive.
And say it out loud. Then notice the people around you nodding their heads.
After all, we have much to be grateful for if we only stop and recognize it.
Our ancestors were born into a world where survival itself was a struggle.
They labored hard to find food, clothing, safety and shelter from the elements. Many died young, usually of unnatural causes.
There are plenty of people reading this column now who grew up without electricity, running water or vaccinations against deadly diseases.
I can only imagine what they think when they hear someone like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say, “An entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity.”
Never saw prosperity? We live in the wealthiest country at the most prosperous time in the history of the world.
As I’ve noted before, a middle-class citizen today is better off than the richest American ever: John D. Rockefeller.
Constantly comparing what you have with what someone else has creates an impoverished state of mind.
It makes you feel poorer, even when you aren’t.
How can you become richer – instantly? By adopting the opposite mindset.
Dwell on your assets rather than your liabilities, your blessings rather than your grievances, your opportunities rather than your problems.
Even setbacks can be viewed in a positive light if you see them through the lens of gratitude – and ask yourself a few questions:
- What can I be thankful about in this situation?
- Could it have been worse?
- Is there an important lesson to be learned here?
- How can I grow from this?
My good friend and Liberty Through Wealth colleague Joel Wade – author, practicing psychologist and life coach – recommends keeping a gratitude journal, one where you take a few minutes each night before retiring to write down the good things – both large and small – that made you thankful that day.
What are the benefits?
Studies show that grateful people have an easier time falling asleep and snooze longer. They enjoy a host of health benefits, including greater resilience and longevity. Gratitude has even been shown to boost your happiness set point – your basic genetically determined level of happiness – by up to 25%.