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Most people want to be happy. Happiness is a fundamental human desire, after all. Especially in the USA, we literally think of happiness as our third inalienable right—after life and liberty. Not only do we all want it, but we think that we should have it. But, if happiness is so important, why do we seem to be so miserable at being happy?

If you step back and look at this country, you get the sense that most people are either anxious, depressed or, at the very least, highly stressed out. The pace of this darkening attitude has only quickened over the decades to the point where we have now arrived at a worrisome place in our collective psyche. The fastest growing disease in America is depression. Along with India and France, America has the highest rate of depression in the world.

But why? We are the richest country the world has ever seen. We have more material comforts than could have even been imagined just one hundred years ago. Happiness seems to be the underlying drive for much of our ambition and material success. So, one might imagine we would take more care in cultivating true joy. One of the problems is that we don’t know how to cultivate happiness. We have been sold a bill of goods based on consumption, image and material success.

There are many ways to manifest a sense of well-being and happiness, but―above all else―gratitude and appreciation have been found to dramatically improve quality of life. The best part is that you can increase your happiness by dedicating just a few minutes of time, little effort and no money. In less than five minutes a day you can increase your happiness level by over 20 percent, if you do a couple of simple gratitude exercises in the morning and the evening. This has been studied and proven to work with a wide variety of demographics. All you need is a pen, paper and a commitment to including gratitude into your daily routine.

This practice of daily gratitude journaling helps to expand our concept of self. It creates connections between thought and emotion. We are allowing ourselves to be grateful for something beyond us. This is something everyone can do. Just a few words is all you’ll need. Keep it simple.

Make sure you have a nice pen and journal on your bedside table, so you are prepared.

Here is the practice for your gratitude journal:

Ask yourself these “Morning Questions” upon waking:

What am I grateful for?

What can I do to make today great?

What kind of person do I want to be today?

Ask yourself these “Evening Questions” before going to sleep:

What are three good things that happened today, or three wins?

What could I have done better today?

What is a goal for tomorrow?

What am I grateful for?

Like most things that work, the key is consistency. Do this for 21 days in a row and see your life slowly start to change for the better.

By Zander Gladish

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