My experiment with gratitude

photo via 8x8

photo via 8×8

Since the early days of my life, my mom has never failed to tell me the key to my happiness was and always will be gratitude. And, of course, I never believed her. At least, not until I tested her theory. 

About two weeks ago, Mrs. Bulgrin assigned a project in my morality class focusing on virtue. We all had to come up with one habit that could be added to our day for a month that bettered us in some way. These tasks did not have to be long or complicated, just one small action every day. 

My first thought: Where do I start? Just like everyone, so many aspects of my life need improving. 

After a few short minutes of thought, my brain immediately jumped to those words I always heard my mom say: “Gratitude leads to happiness.” This seemed like the right place to start my journey of virtue. 

Every habit has four parts: the cue, the action, the reward and repetition. The cue has to be something that happens around the same time every day. It’s the reminder for the habit. The physical action comes next and the simpler the better. The odds of quitting raise if the action is too time-consuming or difficult. After the activity is completed, a reward is recommended. The simple act of celebration releases dopamine which motivates continuation. Lastly is repetition, the most important part. It takes around two months to entirely form a habit. However, after these two months the action becomes automatic. Day by day, the activity will become easier but repetition is key. 

For Mrs. Bulgrin’s “Virtue Project” we had to come up with our cue, action and reward. Following the idea of gratitude, I decided my action would be writing down one thing I am grateful for everyday. My cue was getting into bed and my reward was going to sleep. The last step I had to do was start my project. 

At first, I was very skeptical of this project actually having an effect on my life. I was doing it more for the grade and less for myself. However, within a week I began noticing a difference. 

I ended every night on a positive note thinking about what in my life I was grateful for. It made me realize how truly blessed I am. I had a new appreciation for my life and for the people in my life. And of course, my mom was right. I was happier. 

Before this project, my life was consumed with negativity. I never took the time to think about what I was grateful for. I didn’t think I had the time. Well, writing one thing down takes five seconds, everyone has the time. 

This simple act had an unbelievable effect on my happiness. My life was filled with positivity and gratitude, intangibles everyone could use more of in their life.