Happiness and Gratitude

Feel happier, calmer and more content. A simple wellness tool for parents, partners, friends and loved ones.

We create our reality.

Our bodies and minds are listening to and are therefore shaped by our thoughts. What we think and tell ourselves about the world can make us stronger and more resilient, or weaken us. Ten years ago I attended a course at Harvard University on mind body medicine. Back then there was ample scientific evidence pointing to this and we’ve seen more ever since. I see it every day in my practice.

Our family has a ritual before we go to bed, one that I am hopeful is helping to shape how we view our lives and ourselves.

As we are settling our children down for the night, we ask each other the same questions.

1. What was the best part of your day? Reflecting on our day, in particular the highlights, helps to solidify them in our minds, relive the good feelings that came from those moments and set the stage for reinforcing happiness in our lives. It doesn’t have to be big or monumental, sometimes the best part of my day is just that early morning quiet when I first go into the office, or a hug from one of my children when I pick them up.
2. What are you grateful for? It can be big or it can be little. One night it might be that I am grateful for my beautiful family and the next it might be that I am grateful for the big rhubarb plant that is growing in our front yard. Each night we try to encourage our children and ourselves to think of something different to share to highlight all of the many things that we have to be grateful for. After doing this for several months I have started to notice the small things more often.

We are also experimenting with a few other questions:

3. What is something you love about yourself? Again, it can be big or little. For example, I love that I am a passionate naturopathic doctor or I love the meal that I prepared tonight. This is a question that I pose to my patients frequently. Some people have a very hard time finding things to love about themselves. Stretch your minds, it could be very small (I love that I made it to work on time this morning). As you continue to challenge yourself to think of things you love about yourself, that list will grow!
4. What are you looking forward to? I started to think about asking this question after remembering some research that I had read indicating that we get more happiness and stress relief from planning a vacation that even from taking it. It could be looking forward to an event or a vacation or looking forward to a visit with an important friend or a really delicious meal.
5. What did you do, or, what did someone else do today that was kind? It’s all too easy to notice the unkindness in the world today, don’t let those who act kindly go unnoticed! Noticing the kindness you display for others may also be a source of answers for question number 3. My hope is by taking time to notice kindness, our family will become kinder and more thoughtful people.

I framed this article around my own family’s ritual. If you don’t have children I believe this could be just as useful. Consider creating a ritual with a partner or another loved one – schedule in a little time to share these thoughts with that person. If writing is more your style, perhaps a bedtime journal. Taking a small amount of time to think about these things just may have a big impact. Life may seem a little more manageable and you a little happier, a little calmer and a little more content. :)



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