Gratitude: Make it an active practice
How it’s linked to joy: Practicing gratitude invites more joy into our lives. “When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that is present, we experience heaven on earth,” says inspirational writer Sarah Ban Breathnach. For Karen Graham, a 56-year-old success coach and counsellor, being consciously grateful helps her cope with bouts of seasonal affective disorder. “I find I’m more likely to experience joy if I’m content with what I have,” she says.
How we lose it: We often feel dissatisfied when we compare our lives to others and imagine theirs is so much better, says Graham, who cites this favourite quote from Theodore Roosevelt as a reminder not to do that: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
How to reclaim it: A tangible gratitude practice—keeping a gratitude journal or saying grace at dinner that includes what you are thankful for—can shift your mood from blue to blissful. Every night before nodding off, Graham tries to remember to recount three things she was thankful for that day. “Some are big, like my health or my home, and others are small, like basmati rice.” And, because she’s “more likely to feel gratitude when she’s outdoors,” she makes sure to take her yellow lab, Hailey, for a walk in the woods every day. “Nature is a spiritual place and the forest is my cathedral. When I’m feeling connected to the universe, I’m always in a grateful place.”