2020 – henceforth referred to as TYTSNBN (The Year That Shall Not Be Named) – was full of “plot twists” and tested all of our resilience reserves to the limit. You have the opportunity to tell a different story about 2021. Through a regular gratitude practice, you can fortify yourself against the unexpected, change your mood for the better and train your mind to be more positive. Let’s dive into how gratitude could be the key to a happier 2021 for you.
There are many ways to introduce a gratitude practice in your life – from meditation to journaling – there’s no one size fits all approach, and it can be very simple indeed. In fact, most of the scientific studies investigating gratitude ask participants to spend just 5 minutes each day on their practice.
Martin Seligman and his team (1) found that only a week into their Three Good Things task (recording 3 good things each day), participants were already reporting being 2% happier. After a month of this journaling, participants were 5% happier and after 6 months they were 9% happier.
“We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received…when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life… We acknowledge that other people…gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
Imagine steering through the bumps in the road of this year and taking in the scenery with a more positive mindset, more resilience, having had better sleep – what could you achieve? This could totally transform your life!
People who practice gratitude for what they have are less likely to compare themselves to others – which has been shown to cause envy, resentment and regret – meaning you are more likely to be happier on a daily basis (2).
Studies have shown that writing a daily gratitude journal before bedtime results in an average of an extra hour of sleep for participants. They also found that participants reported feeling better rested. This practice can really help you to relax and focus on good things before sleep (3).
Did you know self esteem – how much you value your own worth – is linked to happiness? Young people with high levels of gratitude also have high levels of self esteem. It is not known whether gratitude causes self esteem or self esteem causes gratitude (4) – either way, this is a great outcome and something we could all do with more of.
You might think there are many components to happiness – environment, career and relationships being amongst some of the factors that people cite as creators of happiness – yet the way you think is the primary cause of happiness. The truth is, that you are the creator of your happiness – and as a self leader in-the-making, you’re sure to want to take the next step on your journey to a happier 2021. In order to more regularly ‘choose’ happiness in 2021, a regular gratitude practice could be the key.
(1) Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410.
(2) Smith, R. H., Turner, T., Leach, C., Garonzik, R., Urch-Druskat, V., & Weston, C. M. (1996). Envy and schadenfreude. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 158 – 168.
(3) Emmons , R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377 – 389.
(4) Froh, J. J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. A. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 213 – 233.