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Live a happier life: how to practise gratitude

Could practising gratitude, being grateful and appreciating life and loved ones improve our lives and make us happier? Many spiritual thinkers such as Eckhart Tolle believe so. Author and filmmaker Baptist de Pape explains how we can practice gratitude to open our hearts and live a happier life

by Ali Roff

showing gratitude

Gratitude, the ability to count your blessings, is the ultimate way to connect to the heart and create even more abundance, writes Baptist de Pape in his new book The Power Of The Heart.

He explains the two levels of gratitude:

  1. The first level of gratitude includes everyday experiences and interactions, from the roof over your head to the food for your children or a smile from a stranger.
  2. The second level of gratitude is to be able to appreciate what you have even after a great loss or major disappointment, such as the end of a love affair, the loss of a job, illness, or even in the face of great sadness, such as the loss of a loved one. Gratitude helps us pave the way for a new life; we find new understanding, new connections and relationships.

By increasing your awareness of everything in life you are grateful for, you make yourself more receptive to the great things in life. People who journal their gratitude are happier than others, and their happiness lasts. It works even better than therapy or anti-depressant drugs. Try keeping a gratitude diary to reap the benefits of practicing gratitude…

Three blessings

Positive psychologist Martin Seligman created this exercise to increase happiness and wellbeing:

  • Each night for a week, take 10 minutes before you go to sleep to write down three things that went well for you today.
  • Write them in a journal or even in your notes section on your smartphone.
  • The things can be large, small, unimportant or important. For example, 'the train came on time' or 'my niece's surgery went well'.
  • Next to each one, answer the question ‘Why did this go well?’. Perhaps, 'because the train crews anticipated bad weather' and 'because my niece found a great doctor'.
  • Keep your list for at least a week and note how you begin to feel.

Adapted from The Power Of The Heart by Baptist de Pape (Simon & Schuster UK, £14.99)

More inspiration:

Read Dr Steve Taylor on kindness on LifeLabs

Read Cheryl Rickman on giving thanks on LifeLabs

Photograph: plainpicture/Westend61