Gratitude makes you happy

This past summer, A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible, spoke to a gathering of law librarians in Philadelphia. His speech included anecdotes about how the research for his writings has affected his life.

When Jacobs chose to explore the Bible, he did it the Jacobs way—to the extreme. He lived for a year following every law and teaching in the Bible. Or rather, he tried to live that way for a year but discovered that there are more than 700 laws in the Bible and some of them contradict one another. “Even absolutism must have exceptions,” he wrote, as he struggled to decide what to do.

But at the end of the year he had changed.

He was happier, and the secret was gratitude. Faith communities encourage the giving of thanks, and when he adopted a daily practice of giving thanks throughout the day for all those little wonderful things that often go unnoticed, it changed him. He realized that for every one or two minor things that went wrong, a hundred things went right.

Sometimes we “save up” our gratitude for Thanksgiving weekend, instead of mindfully practising the giving of thanks throughout each day, week and month. This weekend, be thankful, and let it be the beginning of spreading out your gratitude, and your happiness, throughout the year.

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