The way to make gratitude a shortcut to happiness is by cultivating a fundamental orientation of gratitude. This might stem from what Bob Emmons describes as a positive personal outcome, not necessarily deserved or earned, that is due to the actions of another person.
A grateful mindset allows a higher sense of optimism, more feelings of pleasure & joy, a stronger immune system, greater emotional resilience as well as creating a more socially connected person.
Gratitude has the power to heal, to energize and to change lives. Check out this video that demonstrates these benefits.
Gratitude happens in the present, not the past or the future. Even when we are thankful for a past event, we are experiencing gratitude now.
The Do's and Don'ts of Cultivating Gratitude
Do look at the simple things around you everyday and remind yourself you are lucky to have them, Think toilet paper, warm water, a refrigerator, electricity.
Do pick a special person in your life and write them a thank you letter.
Do take time with your family to talk about what you are thankful for. I like to do this 2-3 times weekly at the dinner table.
Do notice where you feel gratitude physically. Is it your chest, your throat, your eyes or your gut?
Do use simple, intentional language when you verbalize your gratitude.
Don't overdo it. If you become a "Pollyanna" the gratitude will not come from the heart. Keep it sincere!
Don't practice gratitude in a repetitious way. If you are starting a gratitude practice, change up how you practice so your new gratitude doesn't become habituated.
Don't let gratitude mask insecurity in a relationship.
Don't use gratitude as a way to avoid conflict.
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton