It’s been shown that the more grateful we are, the happier we are. Yet gratitude is something we’re not particularly good at.

Bad news grabs our attention more than good. If your performance review mentions ten things you’re doing well and one thing you need to improve, you’re likely to focus on the one negative comment. That’s how we’ve evolved. Being alert to potential problems has helped protect individuals from ostracism and tribes from dangers.

In addition, we adapt quickly to new situations. Something that once made us happy and excited, like getting a pay rise, soon loses its novelty value and becomes ‘the new normal’. Evolutionary biologists say that rapidly getting used to fortunate circumstances keeps us seeking to improve our situation, so that humanity continues to advance.  

Unfortunately, these traits mean that gratitude doesn’t come easily; it must be cultivated. Unless we make a conscious effort, we tend to appreciate only those things that we have recently had to go without. One popular solution is to keep a gratitude journal, another is listing five good things nightly before bed. Once you start listing things you’re grateful for, you notice more and more. Enough food, a place to live, warm clothes, clean air, running water – the list goes on. We are really very blessed.

But it’s the people in our lives who most deserve our gratitude. As social animals we thrive on smiles, hugs, conversations, rituals, warm greetings and just being around one another. Yet our negative bias can have us noticing the one annoying thing about a person and overlooking the many joys they bring into our life.

We all love to be appreciated, so thank someone today for being there for you. You’ll make them feel valued and raise your own happiness at the same time!

                                                                                                     Stephanie Hills ©

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