Thankfulness: Gateway to (synthetic) Happiness

November 22, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 4:07 pm   Category: Happiness,Life

Jacob’s recent post came to mind today in sacrament meeting. With Thanksgiving coming up this week we had a few excellent talks on gratitude. I was struck by how closely the stories of gratitude matched with the idea of synthetic happiness described by Dan Gilbert here. Further, it is striking that this so-called “synthetic happiness” — the state of happiness we can attain when we make peace with not getting what we want — is a form of happiness that is just as real as the “natural happiness” we feel when we do get what we want.

The interesting thing is in all the stories told today the specific method used to arrive at this real form of happiness was to consciously count one’s blessings. In other words, it seems from the stories that more grateful people are more happy people. And if Dan Gilbert is to be believed, the kind of happiness we can arrive at after not getting what we want is just as “happy” as the kind of happiness we arrive at after getting what we want.

So count your many blessings folks. Name them one by one. According to Lehi the purpose of life is to have joy, and being grateful may be the most sure-fire way to be joyful.


  1. Amen. Counting my blessings always opens me up to feeling the Spirit, which leads to happiness.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — November 22, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  2. Awesome, I enjoyed seeing your riff on this theme. It’s interesting that Gilbert talked about our knee-jerk reaction to synthetic happiness being one of “yea, right.” This is definitely the case with watching someone say they became happy by counting their blessings. To the outside skeptic it can look like blessing-counters are just is just fooling themselves, but I suspect counting our blessings can have the same kind of fundamental impact on our mindset that getting stuck with a painting can have.

    Comment by Jacob J — November 22, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  3. Well said, Geoff.

    Comment by Mark D. — November 23, 2009 @ 3:44 am

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    Comment by David — November 23, 2009 @ 10:10 am

  5. I usually delete these advertising comments like #4 but it is on topic enough that I guess I’ll let this one pass.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 23, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

  6. It does make you feel like a curmudgeon to delete an app that might make someone happy. We’ve gotten so used to such bad spam that anything that even looks legit leads to a mental pattern interrupt.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — November 23, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

  7. I’m thankful for my wife and kids, for our health and safety, for my job, and for Eggnog. Amen

    Comment by AYdUbYA — November 25, 2009 @ 1:42 pm