THE BLOG
11/12/2015 03:32 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2016

Thankful to Be Happy or Is It Happy to Be Thankful? Six Steps to Be Happy, Healthy and Successful

Mehmed Zelkovic via Getty Images

It's the season for celebrations, but you're not really feeling that jolly and thankful. Maybe something unexpected threw a wrench into your year -- illness, accident, work, family challenges, financial issues, or even a combination of them. With the holidays coming up, you are feeling a bit like Scrooge, bah humbug.

What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it -- would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have. -- Ralph Marston

There are several very good reasons for you to be happy. Your level of happiness affects your creativity, productivity and physical health. Gallup-Healthways' research showed that when we are unhappy, we lose on all fronts. In the U.S. alone, up to $550 billion of productivity was lost due to unhappiness in the workplace in 2013 because unhappiness brings on low morale, reduced creativity, poor health, absenteeism, lowered productivity and poorer interpersonal relationships etc.

Yet it can be a challenge to shift out of a funk. You may have good justification to feel unhappy, especially during the holiday season when memories and expectations creep up. Whether you are blue from immediate circumstances or grieving memories and other disappointments, there are ways out of that valley of misery. Here are six steps that may help:

1. First acknowledge that you are unhappy. Fully embrace that you are feeling sad, and accept that is ok, your experience is valid. Allow yourself to grieve and then make small steps each day to a happier state.

2. Seek help. You are not alone.

a) Reach out to friends, family, support groups, spiritual organizations, and professional services; they are there to help you. If you are feeling lonely, there are groups and organizations that offer assistance, both online and in person; explore and participate in the ones that resonate with you.

b) Connect with the greatest spiritual power you know. Whatever you call that power, tap into it. Having a spiritual anchor will help sustain you in ways that are beyond human comprehension. Spend time in meditation, prayer and reflection; listen to your inner wisdom and to what replenishes you most deeply.

3. Find reasons to be thankful. In appreciating what we have, we turn our attention to what is good in our lives; the law of attraction will bring us more of what we focus on. The very act of giving thanks activates endorphins in our bodies to uplift our mood. Start with the smallest things if you feel less than appreciative about your life situation. Even in difficult circumstances we have things that we would be very sad if they were missing. Look for what we take for granted that are not givens, for example, life itself, being able to see, mobility, friends, family, work, and wisdom from experience, indoor plumbing, to name a few. Make it a daily ritual to give thanks for five things as you awake and five things before you sleep. Truly examine and value what you are giving thanks for. This practice will expand your perspective of your situation and you will find more reasons to be glad. The more you give thanks, the more it will generate positivity and good in your life.

4. Give back. In helping others we give even more to ourselves. The reward we feel from seeing how sharing of our time, resources or even a smile, generates positive feelings in our bodies and improves our wellbeing in many ways. During this holiday season volunteer at a shelter, donate to the less fortunate, say a kind word to the harried store clerk, pack holiday baskets and food for people who would appreciate them, and consciously act from compassion for others. You may find that you want to continue to give back all year round; the personal return you get makes your efforts more than worthwhile.

5. Move, sing and dance. Exercise works more than our muscles, it improves our mood and overall wellbeing. This season brings more occasions to walk, move, sing and dance. We may have to park further away, be thankful for the chance to walk, take the stairs if the elevators are too crowded, sing at spiritual services and at holiday parties, and dance and move whenever you have the chance, and you can do all this even in your living room alone. These activities will put a smile on your face and make your heart glad. Join groups and events where you have a chance to move, sing and dance, it is a great way to connect with others, a big factor in increasing happiness.

6. Eat and drink responsibly. People have a tendency to overindulge in sugary, fatty, starchy foods and high caloric drinks when they are feeling low. However these food and drink items bring our emotions and bodies down after the short initial high. Enjoy reasonable amounts of treats as you wish, but remember that the sugar/high fat/alcohol hangover and resultant feelings are not worth it when you have excessive amounts.

Happy, healthy and successful, that is my wish for you this holiday season and every season. I am grateful you are in my life. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I appreciate you.

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. -- William Arthur Ward.