If there is one thing that can change your quality of life more than anything else I would like to propose that this one thing I allude to isn’t any of things a large portion of the population would think it was. I don’t believe its money, the perfect job, fame, a great body, living in a dream house or anything close to something like that. Quite the contrary actually, I would like to propose that the one thing that can change your entire life and the degree to which you are capable of being happy is being thankful for what you have NOW. Gratitude for things you have and the way you are as well at gratitude for the things you aren’t and don’t have is one of the most important keys to happiness.
We live in a world where the culture is that the grass is always greener on the other side. We are trained to look ahead to what we hope things will be like when we ….. or if we could only….. Fact of the matter is, there isn’t an end to this way of thinking. In most cases we don’t have more time, we don’t have more money, we don’t have our dream job. So, we find ourselves unsettled in life and constantly striving for more, wishing for more. That is because so many of us are so busy thinking about what we think we don’t have that we forget to look around at what we do have. Our expectations always seem to be for something to work up to, instead of living for what we have already worked up to. Once we work up to what we thought was the “next” level we only push the bar up and strive for that next step.
Please don’t misunderstand what I am trying to imply. I am not saying that there is a problem with wanting to excel or with working toward a future goal. These things are all great things to do, and being driven and motivated toward positive growth in life is always a plus. However, along your path of working toward improvement and growth being thankful for your current situation is of upmost importance for finding happiness. After all, happiness doesn’t come from the future (where you have never been) or the past (where you can never go back), nor does it come from something you wish you had. Happiness comes from a satisfaction in the circumstances of the here and now. The present is a combination of two things: it is literally this very moment (this very second) and it is the current seasons of your life. When I say seasons I am referring to a stage of your life. Seasons will vary for different aspects of your life, and therefore you will always have different seasons all happening at the same time for different layers of your life. For example, you may be in a job that you aren’t real excited about, but you are in a relationship you love. These are two different layers of your life that have two different seasons but both contribute to the “present” state of your life. Some seasons can be days and others can be weeks, months, and years.
- Gratitude makes you happy with what you have and not what you wish you had: So if you aren’t thankful for where you are now what are you? Besides unhappy? Opposite-word.com says the opposite of gratitude is “ingratitude, thanklessness” but that doesn’t help us to understand the negative effects of not being thankful. So, I would like to look at it this way, when you want something you don’t have, or you want things to be a certain way and they aren’t you are doing this with a complete disregard for the good things that already are. If you are constantly looking at what you don’t have what you are consciously, or unconsciously saying to yourself is “what I have isn’t enough, and therefore isn’t worth be happy with”. As an example, let’s say you don’t like your job because you have a mean boss, and you “dream of a new job” what you are doing is focusing on the parts of your job that you don’t like, and replacing those with new “dream” parts. This rids you of the ability to focus on the parts you do like, because if you were doing that you wouldn’t be dreaming up better ones. Start thinking of your job in terms of the good parts, and you might find a new appreciation for it. This doesn’t mean you don’t want to change jobs at some point, but you might find more happiness in your current job if you just change your perspective.
- Gratitude makes you love yourself: Wake up in the morning and look in the mirror. I imagine for most of us our first thought is about the things we would change if we could. How are we to think ourselves beautiful if we are constantly thinking of things we need to improve rather than thinking about the things we are so grateful we are. Be thankful for the areas of your body, personality, intelligence, etc that you love, and be thankful that you are made special to be EXACTLY YOU.
- Being Thankful Changes Your Attitude: There are so many situations in life where it’s easy to feel let down, irritated, disappointed, hurt, cheated, etc. In those circumstances find a way to be grateful for something. Even when you don’t want to, find something. It’s best if you can vocalize this to someone involved or someone you want to share with. Saying it makes it more real, and will change your attitude more drastically. You will realize how good it feels to be grateful rather than any of the other negative feelings you could feel and suddenly you will feel much happier than you did. This concept is put into words well by the writer of Perspective is Everything.
- Being Thankful makes you Healthy: Turns out being thankful actually improves your physical health too. Vegsource.com gives 7 ways that being grateful improves your health.
We will do a follow up post to give tips on how to change the way you think so you are more thankful! Stay Tuned.