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Secret to Happiness: the Gratitude Moment (Stop. Look. Appreciate.)

gratitude moment: stop look appreciate - Happier Place

Is there actually a secret to happiness? If you believe being happier causes happiness, then yes. We call it the Gratitude Moment. And it works for us…

At this point, I could go into a long story of what our lives used to be like (living in New York City and Berlin), how we got a wake-up call, found ourselves in Colorado and went on our own quest to find the secret to being happier. However, I don’t want to waste your time, but get straight to the point of what we discovered.

We are calling our secret to happiness the Gratitude Moment. This doesn’t explain much, but it helps to have a simple, memorable name when you want to communicate something important.

Even better, we have very simple action steps for the Gratitude Moment.

  1. Stop.
  2. Look.
  3. Appreciate.

Our happiness recipe grew out of two principles that are known to make people happier: “being in the moment” and “gratitude”.

Being In The Moment

Our lives are busy, fast and full of worry. We fret about the past, we are nervous about the future. We second-guess decisions and seem to be racing against the clock, the calendar, and our expectations. Stop. Slow down. Be here now. … it’ll make you happier.

According to an article in Psychology Today by Jay Dixit, “Living in the moment—also called mindfulness—is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present.” The author goes on to list some of the benefits of being consciously aware and nonjudgmental of the present; like reduced stress, pain-relief, and lower blood pressure.

When analyzing the data collected from thousands of people through his Track Your Happiness app, Matt Killingsworth came to the conclusion that people are happier when they are focused on the present. He states: “people are less happy when they’re mind-wandering no matter what they’re doing”. You can find out more about his research in his TED Talk: Want to be happier? Stay in the moment


You know this already. When someone gives you something and you experience gratitude, your heart fills with happiness. Okay, you say, I want more happiness, so give me more stuff I can feel grateful for. Guess what, you have reasons to be grateful all day long. The trick is to see and appreciate what’s right in front of you… and remind yourself to do so.

Let’s split what is right in front of us into two categories:

I. Appreciate the beauty around you:

Nature is a gift to us. Scott and I strongly believe in the restorative, calming and joy-inducing power of nature. When you look closely at a flower, you can see the harmony in its design. When you look at a big mountain range, you are impressed by the grandeur and longevity of our landscapes. Nature reminds us that everything will be alright; the sun will rise again tomorrow and spring will come again.

II. Appreciate what you might consider mundane:

We take so many things for granted because they’re just part of our everyday lives. As a reader of this post, you probably have an Internet connection, which means you also have electricity. You probably also have running water, food and a roof under which you sleep at night. Hopefully, you also have your health and feel safe. Recently, several natural catastrophes in the world caused people to lose some or all of those “mundane things”. War and terrorist attacks have taken people’s lives, homes and sense of security. I’m not trying to make you feel bad. I’m just encouraging you to appreciate and be grateful for what you have. Not just right now, not necessarily all day long – but at least consciously every once in a while: look at what you have and feel grateful.

David Steindl-Rast gave a wonderful TED Talk about the correlation between happiness and gratitude worth checking out: Want to be happy? Be grateful

Combine, Experience, Repeat the Gratitude Moment

The Gratitude Moment of combining “being present” and feeling “gratitude” makes you happier in that moment. Every time you experience it, it refuels your state of happiness.

However, to truly be happier overall, it’s important to fully integrate these moments into your life and experience them throughout the day. Eventually, they’ll probably become second nature. But in the beginning, it might be helpful to have a reminder. That’s why we came up with the simple formula: Stop. Look. Appreciate. 

While gratitude and appreciation aren’t exactly the same thing, this is a simple, yet actionable slogan. It reminds you to be in the moment, to consciously see and appreciate what you’ve been given (or worked for) and experience the gratitude that will make you happier. 

All you have to do is repeat the Gratitude Moment formula to yourself throughout the day and take the steps…

Happier Place Gratitude Moment: stop. look. appreciate.

Repeatedly experiencing the Gratitude Moment throughout the day is a wonderful defense against feeling stressed, sad, scared, lost, and frustrated. I’m sure it will raise your base level of happiness.

Consciously integrating gratitude into my life, making it a part of every day, has been the best thing I’ve ever done. And I hope I can inspire you to give it a try and get happier, too.

Need a reminder? Because we strongly believe in spreading this message and helping you get happier, we have created a few products to remind you of the Gratitude Moment. More to come…

xx Luci

We’re curious about how you are doing. Has “being in the moment” and/or gratitude already made you happier? Do you have other tips for how to get happier? Please share your experiences or ideas in the comments below. 

6 thoughts on “Secret to Happiness: the Gratitude Moment (Stop. Look. Appreciate.)

  1. Thanks for this article, Luci. I am finding that some days are harder for me to be grateful but then I try to stop and count my blessings which are many. I am really grateful that I have a God that I know cares about me and blesses me in so many ways that make me happy. I will work on : Stop, Look, Appreciate. Love you !

    1. Thank you, Grandma-in-love, for being so honest about there being days when it’s a bit harder to be grateful. I’m facing that right now. I’m sure you heard that someone else caused an accident which hurt my car Fitz pretty badly. I’m trying to be grateful that I walked away just with a bruised arm – and no one else got hurt. But seeing my car so broken and knowing it will never be the same (since I don’t have a time machine to get parts from the 1960s) makes it harder to feel grateful today. But I’m about to spend an hour or so in the yard, raking autumn leaves and mowing the grass one more time before winter – and so I can be grateful for having a flexible schedule, sunshine, grass, trees, colorful leaves, having a yard and being physically fit to do the work. There’s always something to be grateful for if we stop, look and appreciate 🙂
      Love you, too!!!
      xx Luci

  2. Thanks, Luci, for condensing what we all know in our head but find harder to translate into our day-to-day experiences. I appreciate this wisdom so eloquently expressed.

    1. Thank you, Dianne. I’m very glad you think so. It was a challenge to write this post – especially since I’m suggesting to look at already well-known concepts in a fresh light and combining and integrating them. It’s one thing if you talk to a friend about such things, but a whole different thing if you’re trying to write an article about it.
      xx Luci

  3. Yes, I do find gratitude in every day. I feel so blessed for what I have such as a loving family, friends & so many material extras that we sometimes take for granted. As I close my eyes each night, I mention from head to toes what I am thankful that I’ve been able to do each day not just myself but with others. For ex. Laughing, walking, seeing, using my hands, etc. & pray that I never take these for granted. Gratitude is so important.

    1. What a wonderful comment, Ellie, and what a wonderful way to live! Your daily gratitude and nightly ritual to consciously feel grateful for things one could easily take for granted seem to work very well… because I know you as a very happy person. Thank you for sharing your inspiring experience!
      xx Luci

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