We are taught at a very young age that it is our right to pursue happiness—and most of us try a little bit of everything all in an effort to become happy. We try making a lot of money; we try this or that diet; we get into this or that relationship; we serve this or that charitable organization—it’s all about happiness. Try thinking of something you’ve done because you wanted to be unhappy—it’s impossible, right? The pursuit of happiness drives us to action.
So, we’re all after the same thing—happiness. Great. We’re all on a level playing field, and we’re all in this together. Teammates! But now we return to the original difficulty—we all want to be happy, but sometimes it’s tough to see how to get there. There can’t be a single path to happiness! It’s impossible, right?
Wrong. There is a very simple way that works across all cultural divides. It is called gratitude. When we appreciate the things that we have in our life, and the people who have helped us grow, we become happier. If we get into a habit of constantly regarding the positive things in our lives, then the habit becomes easier—you don’t have to listen for the bird’s song, you simply hear it. You don’t have to drive across town, you get to drive across town—and you take a new route, and you see a new person, and you become more curious, and you dream anew. When we get ourselves into habits of gratitude, rain doesn’t make things gray, it makes things sparkle.
Science has recently begun to support the belief that gratitude can make us happy—where previously it was believed that there was a set point for happiness in each person, a limit coded into our DNA—now scientists believe that 40% of our happiness is influenced by intentional activities. 40% is a lot. You are in control. Be good to yourself by being grateful. Be good to others by thanking them for who they are, and what they do for you.
So if you’re reading this, and you want to be happy (that means you), let me recommend an intentional activity that will do wonders for you. Each week write one thank you note to someone who makes your life better. That’s one handwritten thank-you note per week. Not a text, not a Facebook post, but a heartfelt, handwritten thank-you note, which indicates to someone that you spent time and postage on them because they matter. It could be your best friend, your yoga instructor, your hair stylist—it could be anyone. Your relationships will become more meaningful, you will become happier, and so will everyone you touch. All it takes is a few minutes of mindful gratitude each week—remember, you are in control of 40% of your overall happiness, and remember that we are all in this together. So let’s start a habit, and let’s start a movement.
I’ve launched a campaign for this purpose—to help us build habits of gratitude. I am passionate about gratitude, and what it can do for us as a community—and I wanted it to be a beautiful and convenient habit in our lives. I thought tirelessly about how to do that—and the tools are finally ready. Gramr Gratitude Co. is live on Kickstarter—we’ve worked with the best designers and photographers in the country to create and deliver four new, gorgeous cards to your doorstep each month—one per week. If you join us you will become part of a community that believes that people matter, and that gratitude matters. Your happiness starts with this habit of intentional gratitude.
So, who are you grateful for? And what are you waiting for? Tell them.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Matt Richardson, co-founder of Gramr Gratitude Co. and he is passionate believer in the power of gratitude. His work can be found on the Huffington Post, and his startup has been featured in TechCrunch among various other outlets. Join him in the gratitude movement and get in the habit of saying thanks once per week, by visiting www.gramr.us