By Dr Phang Cheng Kar (M.D.)

Research in positive psychology has shown that grateful thinking generates happiness and prevents stress. Below are three simple ways to be grateful and appreciate life:

1. Be grateful for something that has gone RIGHT.

These are our wishes that have come to be, especially those that we have worked hard for (e.g., proper education, a meaningful career, a comfortable house, professional recognition, a good marriage). Rejoice the successes as if they happened just yesterday. Getting what we want is happiness. Rejoicing every day in what we have is the art of multiplying happiness.

2. Be grateful for something that is OK but taken for granted.

We may take some things for granted (e.g., our good health, enough food to eat, the proper place to stay, caring and supportive family members). Many others are suffering from diseases, physical disabilities, wars, poverty, and lack of basic human needs. Do not miss someone or something only when we lose them. Cherish them here-and-now.

3. Be grateful for something that went WRONG for a purpose.

Some things appear unpleasant but come with valuable lessons. This includes being sick in the hospital, but appreciating life more on recovery; failing in an exam, but becoming more knowledgeable in the next attempt. Everything in life happens for some good purpose. Some things go wrong but could have been worse (e.g., having nose allergy vs. nose cancer; losing a handphone vs. losing a family member; receiving treatment for depression, with social support and sharing of experience from those with depression vs. suffering alone).

Here is another simple and effective way to remind us to practice grateful thinking. It is called ‘Google-WWW-Yahoo.’ It means repeatedly trying to ‘Google’ (search) for 3 WWW’s (What Went Well?) every day, and ‘Yahoo’ (rejoice) on the WWW’s. In other words, deliberately try to pay attention to things that went well in life – success, blessings and other positive events. For example:

  1. Went for a holiday,
  2. Finished reading a book,
  3. Received a compliment from the boss.

Do this regularly (e.g., before sleep) to happify your life.