Want to know one of the secrets to greater happiness? It’s simple… be grateful for what you already have.
In the pursuit of greater things such as that bigger paycheck, that new car, that new house, that dream vacation or perfect body or more friends and success, we often forget to just pause for a minute and truly appreciate all that we currently have.
Now you may say you don’t have much to be grateful for and yet here you are, reading this from your computer, tablet or phone. You have the ability to read, to see, to communicate and since you have internet connection, you have access to more information than you can possibly absorb in 100 lifetimes. There are literally millions of people out there who would love to be in your shoes right now.
To realize what you have, we sometimes have to lose it. If you’re still sitting there thinking you don’t have much to be grateful for, then try this experiment for a week:
If you own a bed, start sleeping on the floor… and no using pillows either. Got a car? Lucky you, it’s time to take the bus. You might as well skip sleeping on the floor of your room and sleep in the car instead. Are both of your eyes working? Try wearing an eye patch over one of them. Got arms? Try washing up and getting dressed in the morning without using them. Do you eat 3 full meals a day? Try going a week only spending 20% of what you normally spend on food.
The main point is, if you really want to look for things you can be grateful for, you’ll find it and if you can’t, remove things you are taking for granted in your life and you’ll realize you’re much more fortunate than you think.
The Gratitude Ritual
A great way to make sure you take the time to feel grateful for all that you have is to make it a ritual. Each morning when you wake up or each night before going to sleep, think of all of the things you’re grateful for. Instead of just naming them, get yourself to actually feel grateful by imagining losing those things and then finally getting them back.
By doing this, you’ll constantly be reminded about the good things in your life and that alone can start to increase your happiness.
What About Contentment?
Some will say being grateful will lead to contentment which will lead to a decrease in motivation and as a result, less will be achieved. This is certainly a possibility but whether or not this happens will depend on the individual.
Almost all of us want to be happy. Many people seek it out, pursue it by reaching higher and higher, accomplishing and getting more things. Unfortunately, many of these people never find lasting happiness because they’re on a never ending chase. Since they’re getting happiness from an external source, when that source runs dry, they feel empty and go out looking for more.
So if the goal is to be happy, who would be more “successful”? The one who achieves massive success but is unhappy or the one who achieves little success but is happy?
Finding happiness in external things is fine but realize the actual feeling of happiness is self created just like any other feelings we feel. Someone can’t just hand you some happiness, it has to be activated from within you.
If feeling grateful leads to contentment but you’re happy, then you’re already ahead of most people. Now, just because you’re content, it doesn’t mean you will automatically lose your drive and motivation. Many people who are happy with their life continue to strive to be more successful at whatever it is they do. They can be just as driven as someone who is constantly seeking for happiness.
When Will You Be Happy?
The main takeaway from this article is that gratitude is internal and leads to greater happiness. Happiness is also internal which means if you want to be happier and more grateful, you can, right now, without having to rule the world.
If this is the case, why do so many people delay happiness until some goal is achieved? There are many reasons but a big one is because it’s what they’ve been taught and that is happiness is something we need to pursue, it’s something outside of us, fed to us from an external source.
If you can learn to be happy now, you’ll have more time to enjoy being happy. You can delay it until you reach some predefined goal but what if you have way less time than you think?
If happiness is the end goal for most people and they can be happy right this instant, why aren’t they? It’s time to break free of the pointless cycle of getting stuff, feeling temporarily happy, losing that feeling, getting more stuff and repeating the same pattern over and over until your time runs out.
Whether or not you take the time to be more grateful for what you have will be up to you. You could decide to allow yourself to be happy now or wait until you achieve some goal. Either way, you have to learn to be grateful because if you don’t, it doesn’t matter how much success you have or how much “stuff” you accumulate, it’s never going to be enough and that feeling of true happiness that you desperately want will always elude you…
… and in the end, you lose in the game of life.