Anyone who’s ever run a marathon, or known someone who’s run a marathon, knows that you don’t just wake up one day after spending the previous decade eating snacks and watching TV, leap out of bed, toss on your beat-up old runners and run the course. It takes months and months of training leading up to the big race, even if you’re a fairly accomplished runner already. You have to have a plan – a training schedule, a diet, and intestinal fortitude.
It might surprise people to know that the same can be said for happiness. People sometimes seem to think they can simply will themselves to be happy – that they can just leap out of bed after spending the previous decade depressed and dissatisfied, shake off the doldrums and start tossing genuine smiles around. But you need to train yourself to be happy just like anything else – and the training should be centred on gratitude.
There are many modern-day scientific studies that explore the link between ritual, gratitude, and happiness, but we don’t really need that. We can look at ancient rituals that have been practised throughout history. Just about every major religion, philosophy, and cultural ritual has gratitude as one of its main tenets, after all – like the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Also known poetically as the Way of Tea, this ceremony involves the ritualistic preparation and serving of green tea. The key aspect of the ceremony is that it is incumbent on the recipient to express thanks and observe what they enjoy about the experience at all times. They must thank their host for the tea, observe its flavour and aroma and what they like about it, and compliment the artistry in both the brewing of the tea and the bowls and cups used to serve it.
The Happiness Effect
Almost everyone who has taken part in the Way of Tea comes away happy – they can’t always explain it; after all, on a surface level it’s just drinking some tea while sitting on the floor. The ritual of consciously appreciating an experience and being thankful for it is what makes them happy. This ritual is like Happiness Training, each experience bringing you closer to inner peace and satisfaction.
You don’t necessarily need to go through an elaborate tea ceremony in order to be happy. The key is gratitude – pausing to think about what you appreciate about your life in this moment, at this time – not some imaginary future when you have all you want, or some long-past moment which you’ve transformed into perfection in your imagination, but right now.
This is what the Appreciation Station is designed to do. Ideal for our busy lives – not many of us can carve out time for an elaborate tea ceremony these days! – the Appreciation Station is a gratitude ceremony in miniature. You’re engaging in one of the most ancient customs of mankind: A ceremony of gratitude. And just like the Way of Tea, you walk away from this simple action feeling happier.
With Grace x