Posted in Life & Happiness

Recipe For Happiness: Gratitude

(This is a three part mini-series on happiness. See the full series here:

Dr Tony Fernando, psychiatrist and researcher at the University of Auckland, talks about three factors that appear to be key to living a happy, content life. They are gratitude, mindfulness and compassion.

Gratitude can be summarised by a quote by Rabbi Hyman Schachtel:

Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have”.

We live in a society that drives us to want more – to become wealthier, more respected and more successful. Our never-ending desires are a great source of unhappiness. Gratitude is the attempt to fight this natural greed. This makes it difficult for us to become grateful: how can we be grateful when we feel miserable?

The key to gratitude is changing your perspective. A large part of our misery come from looking at the big picture. Houses are too expensive. My friends are all getting married but I am still single. I find my job dissatisfying. We sometimes lack the ability to see the forest for the trees; our idea of happiness are grand moments of success or excitement. Instead, perhaps we should be looking at the simple pleasures of life. Think of the little moments that made you smile today: meeting a friend for brunch, seeing a child play with a puppy, drinking a delicious milkshake, basking under the warm sunlight.

To become more grateful, one could try writing a gratitude diary. Every day, write down three (or even just one if it is too hard) things you were grateful that day. This trains you into actively thinking about simple pleasures. It may take a few weeks, but you will notice yourself becoming more aware of the little moments of happiness that fill your day that you took for granted. Eventually, you will reach a point where you are passively grateful throughout every day without having to think about it all times.

Recording a gratitude diary is one of the quickest and simplest ways to increase your happiness, with most people seeing noticeable positive effects within 1-2 months. The best part is that you leave a permanent record that you can look back on to realise how happy your life actually is when you see the forest for the trees.

Posted in Life & Happiness

Happy Moments

When were you last happy?

It sounds like a simple question, yet so many people have to stop and think deeply when they are asked it. Some will bring up a magical story from their last overseas travel, some will talk about a beautiful date they went on with their partner. A common trend seems to be that people need to dig deep into their memories to think of a truly “happy time”.

But why is it so hard to remember when you were last happy? Why don’t people say “I was happy ten minutes ago when I had that delicious burger” or “I am happy right now talking to you”?

Our days are full of little moments that shine a little light on our days, yet many of us do not think much of it. We search far and wide in our pursuit of happiness – the perfect trip, the perfect experience, the perfect partner – yet we fail to acknowledge the importance of the simple pleasures of life.

Now think back on the past 24 hours. Were there truly no happy moments, or did you just not notice them? Recognising the small things that make you smile is the first step to achieving happiness.