Happiness in your 2021 plans

expressing gratitude can improve happiness

Many of us feel a strong need to make changes that will bring more happiness into our lives in 2021. But how do we make changes that will last? “Gratitude makes it easier to reprogram your brain so that you’re happier despite whatever situation you’re in, and you can sustain healthy habits,” advises Gratitude Guru Mike Petouhoff, author of MyGratitudeJourney.org.

To make it easier for you to start your own happiness journey, Petouhoff describes his five favorite ways to live a more thankful life:

  1. Accept where you are right now. “If you are coming from a place of fear, you’ll have to work a lot harder to become happy. That’s because an anxious brain is easily overwhelmed. On the other hand, reminding yourself of what you already have can be a source of strength. It can be very calming. This allows your brain’s cortex, the thoughtful renaissance part of your brain, to drive your actions forward rather than the amygdala. your “lizard brain,” which is in control when you are anxious and afraid. It can be as simple as saying to yourself: The sun will come up tomorrow. Or, I still have friends and family who love me.”
  2. Set aside time each day to focus on gratitude. “I created MyGratitudeJourney.org to help others make setting aside this time for thankfulness a habit. For 12 consecutive days, subscribers receive a daily itinerary with three tabs:
    1. Journey of the World. Each day, you will take a virtual trip to a different country where you will hear authentic music, learn something about their culture, and see what wisdom you can gain from their celebrations of gratitude.
    2. Journey of the Mind. This part of the journey will reveal what modern research has discovered about how gratitude can improve your life in terms of happiness, health, relationships and success.
    3. Journey of the Heart. This section guides you to choose something to do each day to bring the transforming gift of gratitude into your life. This Daily Practice section is actually the key to reaping the benefits of gratitude for yourself and your loved ones, and making it part of your life.”
  1. Record three things each day that made you feel good. “Go further than keeping a gratitude journal. Take a picture to record the moment. That physical interaction will help you remember the positive feeling even more deeply.”
  2. Say thank you more often. “Saying thank you makes people want to be around you. It also deepens established relationships, enabling you to have more frank discussions. Get started by writing a thank you note to someone you appreciate. That’s a tradition I discovered in Japan.”
  3. Don’t wait for special occasions to enjoy the things that make you happy. “Use the good wine glasses. Burn the special candle. Stop and watch the sunset (or the sunrise if you’re a morning person). You can enjoy gratitude year ‘round.”

Petouhoff believes everyone should have a gratitude plan. “I’ve uncovered that the world is filled with traditional gratitude celebrations, and there is a reason for that. Gratitude is part of the universal human spirit we all share, and cultures around the world have found the importance of cultivating it for centuries. There is also scientific research that provides modern evidence verifying gratitude can meaningfully impact the happiness in your daily life. It all starts with finding the ways to express gratitude that feel most comfortable to you.”

About Mike Petouhoff

Mike Petouhoff is an accomplished and transformational leader. He studied organizational behavior and leadership at the US Naval Academy, UC Berkeley, and Columbia University in New York. He is a real-world practitioner of transformative leadership as well. He was the founding leader of the Global Energy Team at Apple, where he was Chief Architect and Implementer of Apple’s successful strategy to reach 100% renewable energy supply for all of its operations in the United States and 23 countries—doing this cost-effectively, actually adding to Apple’s profitability,  while opening up opportunities in states and countries that had not previously been open to renewable energy. His team transformed Apple Inc. (the company with the largest market cap in the world) from being ranked as the “least green tech company” in 2011 to being acknowledged by Greenpeace as having the top ranking for three years running 2014, 2015, and 2016.

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