Every year we hear news about people who suffer from holiday or seasonal blues. More than just hearing about them, a large number actually experience them. I certainly have.
For some, it’s about relational rifts and resentments. For others, including me, it’s about diminishing daylight and getting less exercise—at least that has been the case for me in the past. Since discovering this about myself, I’ve been intentional about addressing it.
But there’s another factor we could be missing.
How Meeting Goals Boosts Our Happiness
In his book The Happiest Life, Hugh Hewitt lists gratitude as one of the key ingredients to a happy life. It’s worth thinking about since Thanksgiving leads directly into the period that so many have trouble.
We just looked at four ways gratitude helps us flourish. Can gratitude also help us battle the winter blues? This is one way I think it can.
Making meaningful progress toward significant goals is a big factor in the level of happiness we experience.
“The successful pursuit of meaningful goals plays an important role in the development and maintenance of our psychological well-being,” says psychology professor Timothy A. Pychyl. “To the extent that we’re making progress on our goals, we’re happier emotionally and more satisfied with our lives.”
So what does this have to do with gratitude?
Gratitude Brings Us Closer to Our Goals
According to research by Robert A. Emmons and Anjali Mishra, gratitude can actually help us make progress toward our goals.
In one study, Emmons and Mishra had participants list goals they hoped to reach over a two month period. They checked back ten weeks later and found the grateful were closer than others in the study to reaching their goals.
“Gratitude enhances effortful goal striving,” they say.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. If making progress toward our goals leaves us feeling happier, and gratitude can help us reach our goals, then gratitude can have a direct impact on the level of happiness we experience.
Using the Gratitude Advantage
What’s especially important about realizing this connection is that we’re approaching the end of the year. Now’s the time to pause and reflect on the last twelve months and make plans for the next year.
In other words, the time we’re most susceptible to negative emotions happens to be the best time of the year to use the Gratitude Advantage to our benefit.
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