Gratitude: The App of Happiness
We’ve all heard that having a positive attitude is good for us: Less stress, lower blood pressure, longer and healthier lives. Almost everyone you talk to will probably agree with this; you don’t need medical studies or scientific papers to understand on a primal level that being happy is a better way to live your life than being angry or depressed all the time.
Easy enough – but the difficulty comes when we try to find the mechanisms that will make us happy. After all, we live in an amazing age of technology and plenty – being happy should be easier for us than for any of our ancestors. Why, then, do so many people struggle to be happy even when they have every trapping of success? Recent studies – and a growing body of personal experience – is telling us that most people are going about pursuing happiness the wrong way, and that the secret to being happy – the secret, in other words, to everything – might be as fundamental as simple gratitude.
Most of us pursue happiness through material and self-centred paths. We look to career advancement, or financial security, or new toys and possessions to make us happy. The real defect with this strategy is that it works – in the short term. Buying a new car does make us happy – until the monthly payments weigh us down and the car loses that ‘new car’ smell. The corner office makes us happy, too – until we see the pile of extra work in our In box and realise we’ll be working harder than ever.
The problem with these strategies is that they are focussed on achievement, which means there is always another rung on the ladder. There is always a new goal. That makes our achievements fade quickly – after all, what you achieved two months ago no longer matters, there’s a new project on the agenda.
This is where gratitude – a conscious inventory of the things we are currently and actively grateful for – makes a huge difference. Because taking time every day to be grateful for what you already have is a habit that forces you to see things as not goal-oriented or future-focussed, but present-focussed.
A study conducted jointly by the University of California and the University of Miami found that people who took the time to write down five things they were grateful for in a journal every day were more satisfied with their lives and generally happier than those who didn’t. Gratitude gives value to things you have already achieved. That’s the crucial difference. By being grateful, you are giving yourself credit instead of constantly dangling a new goal to race after.
That’s where the Appreciation Station comes into play: by giving people a simple, elegant, and attractive mechanism for being grateful in their daily lives, we hope to improve those lives, and life in general, all around the world. Take a moment to be grateful today, and see where it leads you.
With Grace x