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How often do you stop to reflect on what you have? Do you tell the people in your life how much they mean to you on a regular basis? Do you feel thankful for good weather, for new opportunities, for simple pleasures and little conveniences that make your life easier?

If not, it might be time to start thinking this way.

Gratitude is perhaps the single most powerful component of living a happy life. We’ve talked in the past about the importance of connecting with others, of using your energy to improve the lives of others, and even touched on SoulPancake’s study on gratitude – but a lifestyle of thankfulness involves ALL of these topics.

It’s about appreciation for what’s in front of you, and looking for the elements worth appreciating in every experience, both good and bad.

When you learn to live with gratitude, it’s like seeing the silver lining of every cloud – but even beyond making the most out of unfavorable situations, thinking and living in this way opens you up to looking at the world with a very different set of eyes.

Gratitude is more than thankfulness (even though feeling thankful is part of it). Sure, you’ll feel “thankful” when someone does you a favor or pays you a compliment, but a mindset of gratitude will allow you to see the goodness within those people, to appreciate all of the moments that have built up to their kind words or actions (in both your life and theirs), and ultimately prepares you to articulate how important such acts of kindness really are.

It’s like accomplishing multiple goals with a single state of mind! A grateful attitude helps you look on the bright side, it makes you more open to connecting with new people and appreciating the people already in your life, it makes you notice and celebrate small successes (and look for lessons in failures), helps you feel confident and brave, and gives you a reason to smile!

Notice that every one of those things mentioned above is a pathway to happiness on its own – and gratitude helps bring about ALL OF THEM.

Living a life of gratitude is a gateway to greater happiness and more connection with the world around you. You can start small – look for things to appreciate in your immediate surroundings. Look to the things that make you the happiest, and start making it a regular practice. Soon you’ll be looking for things to appreciate everywhere – and then you’ll do it without even thinking about it!

This is your chance to totally change your approach to daily life. Get started now!