Could gratitude actually be the secret to happiness? One woman, Hailey Bartholomew, thinks so as she tells her story in a video below on the power of gratitude. She came to realize that focusing more on what we are grateful for in life, rather than on what we don’t have, or want more of, increases our happiness. But that’s not the only benefit we receive. The practice of gratitude also improves our health, has us sleep better, and makes us more resilient to stress.
The people in the following videos talk about the shift in perspective gratitude can bring that creates a better life. While you watch them, soak in their unique messages on the power of gratitude in their lives, and if you feel moved to do so, take the action underneath each video.
1. Want to be happy? Be grateful | David Steindl-Rast (14:31 minutes)
It is not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy. ~Brother David Steindl-Rast
Brother David Steindl-Rast, a highly-respected Benedictine monk, explains that we all know people who have everything it takes to make them happy, yet they are not because they want something else or more of the same. We also know people who have lots of misfortune, yet are deeply grateful. He says it’s because the less fortunate people are more grateful. Therefore, happiness does not make us grateful but rather it’s gratefulness that makes us happy, he says.
Take action: Each day look for the good in life. Notice how this shift in perspective makes you feel.
2. An Experiment in Gratitude | The Science of Happiness (7:14 minutes)
Expressing your gratitude will make you a happier person. ~Julian Huguet
What happens when a group of volunteers is asked to read a gratitude letter to someone who was influential in their life? The reactions of the people expressing their gratitude to the receivers of the gratitude are so interesting and even moving to watch. Gratitude truly is a beautiful expression of thankfulness for another person.
Take action: Write a gratitude letter to someone who has positively affected your life and then read it to him or her, if you can.
3. Gratitude: The Short Film by Louie Schwartzberg (6:21)
You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today….It’s the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response is gratefulness. ~Brother David Steindl-Rast
This extraordinary video, by Louie Schwartzberg, an award-winning cinematographer, with breathtaking images and beautiful words, will give you a new perspective on the day. Schwartzberg captures the beauty of the earth and its people in his time-lapse photography. Brother David Steindl-Rast, a highly regarded benedict monk, narrates the video, reminding us of how precious a gift each day is to us.
Take action: Tomorrow when you wake up, think about what a gift the day is to you.
4. Robert Emmons: The Power of Gratitude (8:12 minutes)
The grateful person accepts all of life as a gift. ~Robert Emmons, Ph.D.
Gratitude and positive psychology expert, Dr. Robert Emmons, describes how the power of gratitude can “heal, energize and change lives.” He explains that there is a distinction between the feelings of short-term gratitude such as in receiving a gift from someone and gratitude as a fundamental perspective on life.
Take action: Think about how you can adopt a more grateful disposition in daily life. Perhaps it’s thinking or writing in a journal about all that you are grateful for, or expressing your gratitude more.
5. Hailey Bartholomew: 365 Grateful Project (12:04 minutes)
I started to see things like rainy days meant that I got to use my favorite umbrellas. ~Hailey Bartholomew
Hailey Bartholomew had been depressed, so she visited a nun whom she thought might help her gain a new perspective. The nun recommended that, for the next 10 days, Hailey reflect on anything she truly felt grateful for in life. Hailey took her advice and started to see things she never had seen before. As a photographer, she then decided to take photos of what she was grateful for each day for one year. What happens is truly amazing.
Take action: Document, for a period of time, what you are grateful for in life through photography, scrapbooking, or journaling.
6. Brian Doyle: 365 Days of Thank You (8:36 minutes)
People don’t know we appreciate them unless we show it unless we verbalize it. We hope they do and we think that they know, and we assume that they know, but they honestly just don’t unless we tell them. ~Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle had a near-death experience that got him thinking about where his relationships stood in life. Eleven months after his experience, on Thanksgiving Day, he made a commitment to express his thankfulness to one person each day for the next 365 days.
Take action: Express your thankfulness to the people in your life. Like Brian, you can thank the people for who they are and the role they have played in your life.
The Expression of Gratefulness
When people receive gratitude, it can be a beautiful moment to witness. By stopping to appreciate people, we acknowledge their contribution to our lives. Otherwise, they may never know what they have meant to us, or how they have affected our life.
Here is one video on the power of gratitude to bring out a moving reaction from one special bus driver.
7. Mukhtars Fødselsdag – Flash Mob – Bedre Bustur
Mukhtar’s May 5, 2010 birthday started out as an ordinary day driving a public bus in Copenhagen, Denmark for hundreds of passengers. He had no idea that a large group of people on his route planned a special surprise for him. This group chose to express their gratitude for the bus driver who they rely on day after day to take them to their jobs and everywhere else they need to go.
Take action: Is there a public employee you can say thank you to such as a bus driver, crossing guard, police officer, or mail carrier? You’ll, more than likely, make their day!
Hopefully, these videos, even if you watched just one, have you thinking about how you can use the simple practice of gratitude to reap its benefits. Of course, it’s not always easy to feel grateful, especially in difficult times, but the power of gratitude can be just what’s needed to help you through by focusing on what is good about life.
By looking at life through grateful eyes and expressing thankfulness as often as you can, your life can change in remarkable ways.
Is there an action you are willing to take among the ones suggested in this post? If so, let us know which one it is and share your thoughts in the comment section below.