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All we are and all we need

Is all we are and all we need to be

I’ve been in the happiness and wellbeing space for five years now. While the science is advancing and always finding out new nuances, there are some themes that are steadfast. There are some things that remain stubbornly fixed as “stuff you should do to feel better”. And one of those is gratitude.

Yup. Whether it’s diaries, memes or meditations, being thankful for the things you have is a perennial favourite. Gratitude forms a key part of the 12-step programme for addiction. It is regularly used within Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to combat mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and PTSD.

And with good reason. It genuinely makes you happier. Five minutes of gratitude journalling a day can boost your happiness by 10% – you’d need to double your income to get that! It makes us feel healthier, with regular journallers feeling less physical pain and less likely to visit a doctor. It improves sleep and may even help you live longer. It can improve our performance at work, make us a better manager and thus boost our careers. And it overall just makes us a nicer, more likeable person.

So what is gratitude? I like this description from Psychology Today:

Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth. Spontaneously generated from within, it is an affirmation of goodness and warmth.

Gratitude gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate the things we have which, in turn, can reduce our cravings for other things. It’s interesting to reflect on this in the context of the rising cost of living in the UK at the moment. And while gratitude absolutely cannot fill stomachs or warm bodies (and I would never suggest that it can), almost everyone is affected by rising prices and we’re all wondering where we can pinch some pennies.

This has got me to thinking how a culture of gratitude can help those of us who might need to limit our pleasure spending. Having fun doesn’t need to be expensive. It doesn’t have to make all your Facebook friends or Instagram followers go “wow!” YOUR pleasure is YOUR pleasure, not anyone else’s.

So whether you are looking to reduce your spending or not, can you have a think about these questions:

The more I’m involved in the world of wellbeing, the more acutely aware I become that suggesting a change of mindset has to be tempered with the fact that you can’t just think your way out of all of the problems in your life. Sometimes you need to make changes. Sometimes others need to make changes, whether it’s governments or employers. However, mindset adjustments do have a place, especially for those who are materially coping but feeling disillusioned with where we currently are.

Gratitude is a huge part of Find Your Flow, one of my elements of satisfaction. Both finding our flow and gratitude are about being centred into a present moment. It’s almost like magic, the idea of conjuring joy from thin air. Except it’s not thin air. Just because things aren’t new doesn’t mean they should stop bringing us satisfaction. Just because you don’t actually own the sun doesn’t mean it can’t bring you the most immense happiness.

Lyric title from Grateful by The Bangles, written by Bill Bottrell, Susannah Hoffs, Daniel Schwartz
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