How to Be Happy by Using Gratitude

Gratitude isn't just a nice-to-have. It's an essential component for success and good mental health. And you can actually learn to practice gratitude every day. Get-It-Done Guy explains how.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #339

Thanksgiving can be more than just a family holiday. Giving thanks is a form of gratitude and gratitude can change your life.

At Thanksgiving around Bernice's home, it's always fun to listen to the conversation. Grandma Cuddles was complaining that she recently had to move her daycare center. "My old one was sold to me with a subprime mortgage. I held it together for a few years, but then couldn't afford it because the evil, blood-sucking bank repossessed the building. They've ruined my life!"

"Nonsense," said Bernice, looking beatific. "You were lucky! You had the chance to have a much nicer daycare center than you could otherwise have afforded. This is Thanksgiving! Instead of being sad at your loss, give thanks for the time you were able to spend in a facility that was far above your means."

I would love to say Grandma Cuddles softened, realized her error, and gave thanks. Actually, she glared daggers at Bernice and muttered under her breath. Something about Bernice deserving "enhanced interrogation techniques."

But indeed, Bernice is on to something..

Thanks Is a State of Mind

I hate to be trite (no, really, I hate to be trite), but sometimes trite is true. Gratitude is a state of mind. And like every state of mind, it can be trained and consciously adopted. There's an old, trite story about two shoe salespeople who visit a remote, Caribbean island. One wires back home, "Zero market potential; no one here wears shoes." The other writes home, "Unlimited market potential; no one wears shoes, yet!"

The Glass Is Half Full (or Even 10% Full)

Which salesperson is right? Both of them are. Of course, reality will unfold one way or the other, but we aren't talking about reality. When it comes to giving thanks, gratitude is a state of mind.

Grandma Cuddles looked at Bernice accusingly. "You," she spat from between clenched teeth, "Are a glass half full kind of person."

"Not at all," replied Bernice, "I am a glass 10% full kind of person. If a glass is 10% full, I can get mad at what's empty, or I can be thankful for the part that's full. My reaction doesn't change the glass, but it does change my attitude."

She really nails it. Gratitude isn't about what's true about a situation; it's about how you respond emotionally to the situation. Your response will change the real world, however. As a general rule, anger, spite, frustration, and all those emotions put you in a horrible state of mind. Decisions made from that place are generally pretty bad ones.

When you're in a good frame of mind, you'll make better decisions. You'll be more creative, generate better options, and choose more rationally. Gratitude, in particular, has been shown to correlate powerfully with happiness, health, and general well-being. Giving thanks for the 10% full glass will leave you happier than getting angry at the 90% empty, and you'll be in a more powerful frame of mind to put your attention on getting the glass more than 10% full.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.