The Secret To Happiness And Contentment

I am always perplexed by a title that includes the word "Secret." Somehow it communicates the idea that only a few people know something we don't. I understand why we use it. It's a way of saying the result desired comes from something not commonly practiced.

Contentment is one of those desires we long to experience. Yet, most people think that it is acquired by something you purchase or by a longing fulfilled. The truth is contentment and happiness is a result of being grateful. The beauty of this quality called gratefulness is that it does not cost you anything, yet it will change everything when practiced.

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done a lot of research on gratitude. One study asked participants to write a few sentences every week, focusing on particular topics.

They divided everyone in the study into three groups. The first group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. The second group wrote about daily irritations or something that had displeased them. The third group wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After ten weeks, those who wrote about what they were grateful for were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

It's no secret that the key to being content and happy is a result of being grateful. This rare quality has been in the Bible for years. Maybe that is why the New Testament prescribes gratefulness as a daily practice.

"Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude." Colossians 4:2 (Message Version)

You may not get everything you want, but you can certainly be grateful for everything you have!

Happy Thanksgiving!