Financial Independence is a great goal. Making and saving money is totally worthwhile. But ultimately, it’s just a means to further life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Almost all of us can agree that our wellbeing is more than just a sum of our material conditions. And that’s why gratitude can be a useful practice in the pursuit of a good life
The science backs this up. Studies show that gratitude increases our sense of subjective wellbeing. It also plays a critical role in our relationships with others. Robert Emmons in particular has devoted much of his life to explaining the scientific benefits of gratitude – physical, psycohological and social.
Despite the evidence, though, the only real way to know if gratitude will enhance your life is to give it a go. So why not try out one of these five simple techniques:
- Keep a journal. Set aside five minutes per day to write down one thing that you are grateful for. This could be a loving relationship, your health, the way you tackled a particular challenge, or just something nice someone said.
- BONUS: Look back through your earlier entries and feel the warm, nostalgic glow of gratitude all over again…
- Look out for silver linings. Get in the habit when something goes wrong, or feels negative, of challenging yourself to see something positive in the situation. This can nip the negative feelings in the bud and stop them bleeding through into the rest of your day.
- Tell someone. My girlfriend is much better at this than me, but if you’re grateful for a relationship – family, friends or lovers – any time’s good to send a text and let that person know.
- Play with pessimism (not for everyone!). If you’re having a frustrating conversation, imagine what it would be like if that person were to die before you could speak again, leaving things on a sour note. Be grateful that you have the opportunity to turn this around into a positive moment.
- Get stuck into nature. Getting lost in nature can be a great way to strip everything back by seeing the simplicity of what really makes life tick (it’s not iPhones or corporate meetings). Getting rid of modern distractions can be soothing and can help us see that many of the things that stress us are just relatively trivial.
Did you try them? How did they work for you? How else do you practice gratitude?