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November 26, 2007
Happiness. Build Gratitude Chains in Your Life
Everything good that
happens in this world is the result of a chain of events. No matter the
size, each event has a history of activity. Unfortunately, most of us
are unaware of the many good chains in our lives.
Consider the last time
you opened a can of beans. Did you think about who planted them, picked
them, packed them, shipped them, stocked them and sold them to you?
Here’s the response I most often get when I ask that question, “Ahhh,
no.” We just open the can, throw the beans on our plate, pop them in the
microwave, grab a fork, and start eating them as soon as the plate is
put on the table. We don’t see the chain, we just see the beans.
My mom knows about
beans, and she understands the chain. Mom picked beans growing up in
Maine. During the summer Mom and her sister would walk down the hill
from their home to the Kennebec River, pay 10 cents for someone to ferry
them across the river in a rowboat, and then head for the bus that would
take them to the farm where the beans were grown. Mom would spend all
day in the hot sun picking string beans, earning $10 per week. Then the
beans were washed, packed and shipped to nearby grocery stores.
So when Mom sits down
to eat string beans, she appreciates the chain. Her awareness of all the
people and effort that it takes to get beans from the farm to her plate
makes her feel grateful. And that’s a good thing. Gratitude is one of
the most potent psychological contributors to happiness.
psychology professor at the University of California Davis, demonstrated
in his research that grateful people are happier. In his new book,
“Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier”,
Emmons wrote, “Our groundbreaking research has shown that grateful
people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy,
enthusiasm, love, happiness and optimism, and that the practice of
gratitude as a discipline protects a person from the destructive
impulses of envy, resentment, greed and bitterness.”
The challenge then is
for us to find ways of becoming more grateful. One powerful way to
increase your gratitude is by increasing the number of what I call
“Gratitude Chains™” in your life. Gratitude Chains™ are made up of links
of appreciation for what contributes to the people and things we care
about. Here are the four keys to building Gratitude Chains™:
Everyday look around
you and take note of what you value. What and who do you appreciate in
your life? Write down what you observe (i.e., your spouse, your
children, your job, your daily meals, your friends, your country, your
car, your home, the customer service you receive, the coffee you drink,
about each person or item on your list. How do these people do what they
do each day? What contributes to these important things in your life?
Ask questions, study and research. Do whatever you have to do in order
to better understand what and whom you treasure.
You feel grateful only
for what you remember. Practice recalling the most important people and
things you care about in your life. Recite them in the morning. Add them
to your prayers. Reflect on them each day. Thank them.
Weave Your Gratitude
There is power in the
Gratitude Chain™. The more we know about the people and things that
matter to us in our lives, the more likely we will feel grateful. View
your life as Gratitude Chains™ woven together. The gratitude you feel in
one part of your life will connect to and energize the other areas. And
remember all it takes is a can of beans and your Gratitude Chain™ to
brighten your day.
My wife Dawn told me
recently that she plans to plant a garden with our little girls, Ariela
(4) and Eliana (5). Dawn wants to carry forward the Gratitude Chain™ in
our family. And Dawn called my mom to tell her what she intends to plant
is a syndicated columnist with North
Star Writers Group, creator and host of “The Happiness Answer™”
television program, an internationally sought-after speaker and seminar
leader, and the author of “Beware of Garbage Trucks!™ - The Law of the
Garbage Truck™.” Mr. Pollay is the founder and president
of TheMomentumProject.com, a strengths-based training and consulting
organization with offices in Delray Beach, Florida and Washington D.C.
Mr. Pollay is also the associate executive director of the International
Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). Email him at
David J. Pollay. Distributed by North Star Writers Group. May not be
republished without permission.
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