Pollick: Gratitude leads to happiness

Pollick: Gratitude leads to happiness

Thomas Pollick, Columnist

I recently watched an interesting video about gratitude that my friend shared on Facebook. A group of people were asked to write a paper about someone that had greatly influenced their lives. Each subject was then asked to call the person they wrote about and read the paper to them over the phone. It was an emotional video that provoked a lot of thought. A survey that was given before and after the experiment showed that writing and sharing the letter of gratitude had a positive impact on the test subjects’ happiness.

The video said that gratitude is one of the biggest factor of happiness, which makes sense: Gratitude is all about focusing on the things that make you happy.

After seeing the video, I made it a goal to both feel and express gratitude more often than I did before. After all, I have a lot to be for which to be grateful. I have great friends and family, and I’m in an environment and a time in my life where I can explore my passions. By being grateful, I resolved not to let myself lose sight of these things.

I decided to do an experiment of my own by doing a few quick gratitude exercises everyday. I didn’t expect too much out of it. When I woke up, I would make a short list of what I was grateful for. I would make lists during class when I felt bored. I would remind myself to be grateful when I noticed myself complaining or worrying.

It wasn’t until I made it a goal to be grateful that I noticed how negative I really was. Negativity had simply been a habit — a regular way of thinking that I couldn’t shake off. Every day, there would be something negative to think about. Whether it was about homework, a disagreement with a friend or just a general feeling of dissatisfaction, I could always find something I didn’t like. Once it was resolved or forgotten about, my mind would latch onto something else negative. It didn’t solve anything

Practicing gratitude helped change this. The more I practiced gratitude, the more positive thoughts began replacing my routine negative thoughts. It also helped put situations in a new perspective. Gratitude was a reminder to myself that I already had the important things I needed — most other issues were trivial in comparison.

Although it seems hard to keep this in mind in some situations, it’s a perspective that is worthwhile. My mom has been overseas in China, and a few days ago her wallet with her credit cards and ID was stolen. I received the news when a friend of hers in China called my cell phone. Concerned about the situation, I called my dad to make sure he canceled the credit cards. Thankfully, everything ended up fine.

Though this incident was unfortunate for my mom, I reminded myself to be grateful because it could have been worse. We canceled the card before any charges were made. My mom was still OK. My mom’s friend could have made that phone call with worse news.

Gratitude is something that helps keeps you positive. Even if things don’t seem to be going your way, there is always something there to be grateful for. Gratitude can be independent of circumstance. Just as there is always something to complain about, there is always something to be grateful for. It’s a matter of choosing the right side.

Thomas Pollick is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected] If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].