How to be Happy – The Gratitude way!

How to be Happy through practicing the Gratitude Exercise


This post would not be written without the genius of Dr Tal Ben-Shahar Phd., Author of: ‘Happier – Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment’ 


Most of us just want to ‘know how to be happy’ and yet it feels all too illusive.  Ben-Shahar’s book is one of those books that will help quieten and enlarge your soul.  He reminds us that happiness is illusive but ‘happier ideas’ are achievable.  This exercise is very simple but very powerful … try it … I tried it 2 years ago and it changed how I saw my world FOREVER!


Being grateful for one’s blessings is a key ingredient of knowing how to be happy.  People who practice gratitude feel better about their lives.  They are more optimistic, are more likely to achieve their goals, and … well … know how to be happy!.


How to be happy – the gratitude way!

Being grateful is about regaining our ability to look at the world in the same way a child does. Our lovely 11 month old grandson gets it!  His world is full of wonder and awe and he is compelled to explore.  Adults are all too caught up in wanting more, needing more, wishing for more and losing sight of the beauty of the moment.  I have discovered that there is no other way to happiness than by noticing (seeing and feeling) ‘life’.  Noticing life then leads to expressing gratitude and amazement at the beauty of the world we live in – even in the worst of times.


Practicing this brought me out of a very very low period in my life – I was very close to depression.  During that time I learned how to be happy through learning how to be grateful for the full time job that gave me stability but totally drove me around the bend.   Through Ben-Shahar I learned to see beauty in blades of grass and the frost on the path as I walked to work.


So, right now, this very second as I breath … I am truly grateful.  Yes, I have mountains to climb and changes to make, and I’m a little stressed right now, (OK more than a little!!) but I am eternally grateful for my life.    So, what might you be grateful for right now, at the moment?

  • The breakfast lunch or dinner that you had today?
  • Your family?
  • Your Friends?
  • Your health?
  • Your work?
  • The fact that you can taste, see, hear, and smell?
  • A beautiful piece of music
  • Or the fresh air that you breath and smell?

The Exercise

This is a simple exercise that you can practice to help you be happy by make gratitude a part of your daily life.  ‘By doing the gratitude exercise’, you will remind yourself of the miracles that exists around us.  The key is to learn to look at life anew at every moment, rejoicing in the here and now, celebrating what we have.’


Set aside two or three minutes a day to do the gratitude exercise.  The end of the day is a good time for most of us.


Find a quiet place where you can reflect.


Have a pen and paper or small notebook to write down your thoughts.


Write down at least five things for which you are grateful that happened during the day.  Write down everything for which you are grateful, from enjoying the sunrise to appreciating your family friends or a meal.  Dr Ben-Shahar suggests that when you write these things down, ‘fill yourself up with the emotion of gratitude’.  ‘Experience it while writing it down’.


Take your time.  Don’t rush through the exercise or allow yourself to just go through the motions.  Stay focused on the act of gratitude.  The key while doing the exercise is to focus.  Become mindful rather than doing the exercise as a mater of routine or autopilot.


‘As you live each day’, remember to appreciate all that is in front of you, around you and within you.’

AND … why not do the gratitude exercise every so often with others – with your partner or child or parent.


N.B., Practice doing the gratitude exercise for at least a month, until it becomes a habit.  A month is about the period of time it takes to form a new habit.  ‘When we make a habit of gratitude, we no longer require a special event to make us happy, because if we really look, then every object in the wonder-filled world around us is unique and special, an object worthy of beholding and appreciating’.

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