Gratitude: Cultivating happiness in others

By Michelle Gray
RCC Counseling

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it seems like a perfect time to discuss cultivating happiness. Yes, I realize that Valentine’s Day has become a commercialized explosion of pink, red and purple merchandise and we get bombarded with advertisements for diamonds, chocolates and romantic getaways without even saying the words loud enough for our electronic devices to hear…. But, here I am discussing gratitude, which when tasted by a refined palate displays hints of love and notes of pure happiness. Who am I kidding? When tasted by even the most inexperienced palate it makes you drool and hoping for more. Being on the receiving end of a compliment, a gift, a smile, a wanted touch, or the simplest of kind attention is exhilarating.  

Try and remember a time you received an unexpected present, compliment or kind words. How did it make you feel? Now, try and recall the last time you gifted someone with a compliment, present or kind words. Did it feel as good or better than being the receiver?  

There is research around the benefits of giving, and it shows that giving is actually good for your health. When people expel energy for others through acts of kindness, they increase their natural “happiness” with a neurochemical infusion dubbed  “the Happiness Trifecta”  — oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin.

When you are happy, you produce and release higher amounts of oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters play a role in your health and your happiness.  

What do you say about giving this a try? Listed below are a few small gestures that can make a huge difference in both your and someone else’s happiness and well-being.  

  • Write a happy message on a sticky paper and post it where you know the recipient will find it.
  • Text a kind, funny or grateful message, picture or meme.
  • Slow down and dance with your person. Choose a song and ask them for the dance.
  • Write a thank-you note to someone you are grateful for.
  • Give a hug or hold a hand, with consent.
  • Leave a flower on someone’s windshield or doorstep.
  • Tell someone “thank you” and really mean it; they’ll see the difference.
  • Be silly. Laughter goes a looooooong way.
  • Hold the door for someone.

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