Another step to happiness: count your blessings!

I have written about some of the research into happiness and advised against becoming a square peg in a round hole.  I now want to examine an old cliché: count your blessings.

It is important to remember that a saying becomes a cliché through being overused.  That is usually because it has been found to be true or helpful over the years.  That is certainly the case here.  Studies have shown that people find it makes them happier and healthier if they literally count their blessings from time to time.

This does not always come easily.  It can become a habit to moan about the weather, the Government, the boss, the referee or some other easy target for our discontent.  Sharing our negative thoughts often leads to expressions of agreement from those around us, making us feel better, temporarily out of camaraderie.  However, in the long term, this seems to build up a negative view of the World, which is depressing.

This thinking is encouraged by the media.  Good news is usually less newsworthy than bad news.  You cannot blame the press too much.  A thousand aircraft making successful flights are less likely to be of interest than one aircrash.  A thousand social workers, doctors, teachers, priests or even politicians working hard and doing a good job are less likely to sell newspapers than one making a big mistake or being found to be corrupt.

We cannot blame the media, but we need to be careful in interpreting what we read or hear.  To count your blessings means to remind yourself occasionally of all the good things in the World and in your life.  If you have reasonable complaints about your job, be happy that you have one.  If you have several aches and pains, be glad we have the NHS.  If you have criticisms of the Government, remember that we have the right to protest, to question and ultimatelty to vote them out.

I am not saying we should look at the World through rose-tinted spectacles.  We should just stop doing the opposite.

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