Is gratitude the secret to happiness?

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What is wrong with us?

I’m serious, so many of us spend our time wishing for something better.

I’m no exception, so I’m not pointing the finger here. It is just so frustratingly annoying that we sit around wishing and waiting, when we have all the tools at our disposal to not live this way.

So why do we do it?

A while ago I wrote an article about Practising Daily Gratitude, where you list and think about five things you are grateful for every morning.  Another of my articles asked the question whether we should be happy with what we have. They touched on why we are the way we are.

When I was around one I learned to walk, which opened a whole new world to me. But by my early teenage years, dragging myself out of bed and moving around wasn’t something that came naturally. Normally I’d sit on the edge of the bed, head between my hands with my elbows on my knees thinking all kinds of negative crap about the day ahead. I would shamble to the bathroom, shower, dress, and do all the other little things to get ready for the day.

Having gratitude for what you have in any given moment is, in my opinion, the answer to happiness.

I never once woke up and thought ‘yes, my legs are working!’ back then.  Think about that for a moment. Not once did it ever occur to me that one day my legs wouldn’t work, and that they would never again.  In a moment, that task of dragging myself out of bed to shower would have become a dream.

It never occurred to me what life would be like without my mobility.

What about breathing unaided or our sense of taste? We never consider things like that to be gifts until they’re gone – when we have a cold and breathing is hard and our favourite takeaway tastes of nothing. What about losing your sight, hearing or a loved one! I’m able to scratch my nose, but one day I may not as I have friends with similar conditions who now cannot even move their arms.

“It won’t happen to me” is a normal thought that I’m sure we all have – but, most of us think we might win the lottery or get that lucky break that will turn everything around.

Statistically the odds on you losing one of your five senses is far higher than that big elusive break you’re waiting for.

Having gratitude for what you have in any given moment is, in my opinion, the answer to happiness.  It doesn’t mean you have to give up the desire to want more, but, if you want more because you believe it will make you happy, forget it. You will spend your life always wanting that little bit more that you believe you need to be happy. I’ll be happy as soon as we move house. Things will be better once I finish this project. When the kids start school I’ll be able to get my life back.

I’m sorry, but thinking like that is living in dreamland.  Things don’t get better until you learn to be happy with what you have.

Whenever you have a spare moment, even if it’s just 10 seconds, find something that you are grateful for in that moment, even if it is just the ability to breathe. You see, over time thinking like that rewires your brain to such a degree that you can go from where you cannot see anything positive to not being able to see anything negative.

As James Allen, a psychologist and philosopher nearly 100 years ago, said in his book ‘As a Man Thinketh’, “You are what you think”.  I’ve said it several times, but I just can’t understate the importance and brilliance of that statement.  It’s so true.  (If you want to read further, you can download ‘As a Man Thinketh’ free here.)

I would like to go a step further and tell you that you can be whatever you think, you just need to think it often enough.

Practice gratitude in any given moment and I promise it will change your life.

 

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