Putting the Happiness Back

David Steindl-RastJanuary can be a month when we struggle to come to terms with the post-Christmas slump, getting over our excesses, dealing with cold weather and short days, and maybe even New Year resolutions not acted on.

I too can find it hard to get going at the start of the year. Coincidentally, I’ve had 2 separate items sent to me this week on gratefulness, both of which have helped jolt me out of any low mood, which I’d like to share with you.

One is a brief talk by David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, who talks about how we all want to be happy and gratitude is the key.  He tells us that the route to happiness is grateful living, noticing each moment as a gift and recognising the opportunities each brings.  The great thing is that, even if we miss the opportunity in one moment, there is always another given to us.  Being grateful doesn’t stop difficult things happening.  We can, though, change the way we respond to those difficult times.

He recommends a simple 3-step approach to learning to live gratefully:

1. STOP – find ways to stop in our busy lives, to create ‘stop’ signs for ourselves so we are able to experience the moment.

2. LOOK – open our eyes and hearts and notice the opportunity given to us in that moment.

3. GO – do something with that moment.  Mostly that will be just to recognise and enjoy it, or to learn from it.

David argues if we all become grateful, this can transform our world.  If we are grateful we cannot be fearful, we are not violent but respectful of one another, we react from a sense of ‘enough’, we become joyful.  Through interacting joyfully with one another, our world becomes a happy world.

How great would that be?

The second is an article by Paul McGee, the ‘Sumo Guy’, who talks about a ‘detox of the mind’ for January.

He recommends we all put on some ‘gratitude glasses’ to help us deal with the negative news and the moaners and groaners.    The approach he suggests is to find one thing we’re grateful for each day, or even to keep a weekly gratitude diary.  Whilst it won’t stop painful things happening, it will help us to notice the positives and see things clearly and in perspective.

So it’s January.  Let’s see if we can put the happiness back.  Learn to live gratefully.  Notice the moment and use the opportunities it brings to enjoy and bring pleasure to ourselves and others. We won’t always manage it – especially if our kids are arguing, the cat’s been sick, our friend is ill, and the radio reports nothing but bad news.

The great thing is, we still get another moment and another….if we stop to notice them.

Happy January!

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