Gratitude, Thought, And Happiness

No matter how difficult our lives have been or the struggles we still face, every human on earth has experienced at least one moment of gratitude and the feelings of joy and peace that accompany it. Whether it was the birth of a child, a promotion at work, the joy of true friendship, a parking space at the mall on Christmas Eve, or any other saving grace, all of us have had the feeling of gratitude – at one time or another.  When we find ourselves having more and more feelings of gratitude, we gradually develop a sense of gratitude.

A sense of gratitude feels a lot like falling in love, but without the overwhelming excitement or fear that can accompany projections we sometimes place on the objects of our love.  It is a soft, warm, comforting feeling that is deep in our hearts.  It is a sense of gratitude that allows us to say, “I am okay.   IT is okay. Life is good. I can keep going.”

Every time you experience a sense of gratitude, you feel a little happier – about yourself and Life, in general.

Imagine what it would feel like to have that grateful feeling every day, even several times a day. The good news is, “You don’t have to imagine it.  You can experience it!”   You can call upon a sense of gratitude at any moment, on any day – and every day, if you want.


Photo by Dez Pain

Photo by Dez Pain

Like love, anger, fear, or joy, gratitude is a feeling that begins with a thought.

You can choose to feel gratitude, any time that you want, by focusing your thoughts on the things in Life for which you are most thankful. It really is that simple.  Your brain will automatically attach the feeling of gratitude to the thought that you are thankful for something.

You have the power to manage your thoughts and create new thought patterns.

The understanding that we have the power to manage our thoughts and create patterns of thought that are desirable to us is one that has become well-developed and much discussed in the fields of spiritualism, psychology, and, in more recent years, the field of neuroscience. Regardless of whether you view thought as part of free will, manifestations of the psyche, the product of neurotransmitters or all of the above, mounting evidence continues to establish that our thought patterns have a tremendous affect on our health, happiness, and well-being.

It stands to reason, therefore, that we can promote happiness by focusing on thoughts that are accompanied by positive emotions.  Gratitude is an emotion that could hardly be described as anything other than positive.

When we choose to focus our thoughts on all of the “good” in Life (finding it in small things, as well as the majestic), we feel closer to Life itself.  This sense of closeness brings us comfort, and we are grateful for the comfort.  You can conjure up thoughts of thankfulness by recalling prior experiences or having new ones.  Here are some ways to take hold of thoughts about things you are thankful for.

Retrieving Appreciation Thoughts From Your Memory: Every time that you replay a memory, you recreate the thoughts that forged it in your mind.  You have experienced something in your past that made you think, “I am so thankful!”  Retrieve and recreate the experience by reaching into your memory database and recalling everything about it that made you appreciate it. The key is to stay focused on the aspects of the experience for which you were thankful.  Do not let your mind wander away from the aspects of the experience that made you appreciate it.

Finding New Appreciation Thoughts: You can experience the feeling of gratitude by focusing your attention on the things that you are thankful for today – right here in the Now.  You do this by really noticing what you appreciate in the first place and paying focused attention to those things.

  • Notice that the sun rises every single day.
  • Notice when something makes you smile and what that something is.
  • Notice when someone holds a door open for you.
  • Notice when you are eating a tasty meal.
  • Notice the sound of birds chirping.
  • Notice when something makes you laugh.

Every time you notice something you appreciate, give yourself enough time to be thankful for it.  Remember that your brain will always attach the feeling of gratitude (a good thing) to a thankful thought.  But it needs the thankful thought to work with.

If you would like more ideas about finding things to be thankful for and nurturing a sense of gratitude, I can personally recommend the following book:

The Heart of Abundance: A Simple Guide to Appreciating and Enjoying Life, by Candy Paul.

A version of this book is currently available for FREE in the Kindle® Store at  If you do not own a Kindle®, you can download the Kindle PC® Application for free at the same site.

If you want to learn more about how gratitude affects happiness from a positive psychology perspective, I recommend the following book:

Thanks! How The New Science Of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, by Robert Emmons.

© 02/06/12


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