7 Tips to Affirm Your Life and Enjoy More Happiness!

7 Tips to Affirm Your Life and Enjoy More Happiness!

7 Life-Affirming Things Grateful People Do

by Arianna Rebolini 

Gratitude has been linked to stress reduction, increased happiness, and better physical and emotional health. Here are some ways to reap those benefits.

1. Keep a journal.

Dr. Laura Gambrel, professor of psychology at La Salle University, recommends keeping a journal specifically for gratitude, in which you write about three good things — big and small — that happened to you throughout the day, along with some background information on how and why each good thing happened. Studies show that doing this nightly for just one week can decrease depressive symptoms for up to six months; even those who did it once a week showed an increase in physical activity, fewer health complaints, and greater optimism about their future. The bonus is that you’re also creating an incredibly efficient and personalized pick-me-up. Having a bad day? Why not read about that time the subway arrived at the very moment you got to the platform? Isn’t life the best sometimes?!

2. Tell friends/partners/family why they’re appreciated.

Grateful people recognize that much of the good in their lives comes from those around them, and because of this they tend to cultivate the strongest relationships. But research shows that we can milk even more gratitude (and happiness) from our experiences with our loved ones by actually telling them why they’re appreciated.

In this 2005 study published by the University of Pennsylvania, people who performed a “gratitude visit” — i.e., wrote a letter of gratitude to someone who impacted their life in a positive way, and then read it aloud to that person — experienced an immediate spike in happiness, which lasted up to a month after the exercise. Of course, your gratitude visit doesn’t necessarily have to be as formal. If you find yourself remembering that time your friend brought over pizza or proofread your résumé, text them about it. You’ll get to relive the warm, fuzzy feeling all over again.

3. Stop thinking they’ll be happy once they get that job/laptop/dream home.

We are notoriously bad at predicting what our future selves will want or need to be happy, and research shows that the satisfaction we do feel once we reach these benchmarks often fades quickly. Two of the most defining characteristics of grateful people are a feeling of abundance, as well as an appreciation of simple pleasures (which this 2003 study from Eastern Washington University defines as “pleasures in life that are readily available to most people”). It’s a matter of shifting focus, and enjoying the things we do have…

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