As you sit here reading these words, pause for a moment and take a quick assessment of your life. Chances are, you have access to food, shelter, and other basic necessities. You might also have family and friends who care about you. For the most part, you live a comfortable life. And the truth is, most of us who have access to the internet to read blogs like www.marcandangel.com share these same good fortunes with you.
However, as busy human beings, we rarely see life this way – we are often disappointed by what we have, and so we think we need more… more comfort, more validation, more certainty, more possessions, more food, more excitement, etc. Angel and I do this too, because we’re just as human as everyone else. So I’m not criticizing anybody – I’m just being honest.
Our collective problem is this:
If we always want more, more, more… we’ll never believe we have enough. And that’s not the truth.
The truth is, life is a continual journey, constantly evolving and changing, and the resources we possess at any given moment are exactly what we need to take the next step forward. In other words, we always have enough (even if it’s just barely enough). But we have to be aware of this – we must be grateful for where we are and what we have – to make the best of it.
That, of course, is easier said than done.
Being grateful seems simple enough, but this state of mind is incredibly difficult to maintain when life upsets or disappoints us. Nevertheless, when we’re feeling upset or disappointed, that’s actually when a dose of gratitude is most beneficial.
So what can we do?
When Angel and I discuss the importance of gratitude with our course students, we often get a “Yeah, yeah, I know…” response. But the truth is, most of us don’t know – because in the heat of the moment we’re terribly forgetful.
In the haste of our busy, stressful lives we neglect many of the fundamentals of gratitude, and thus miss out entirely on gratitude’s most positive benefits. Thus, the mantras below (excerpts from our book and blog archive) can serve as good refreshers for all of us. Just pick one and repeat it silently to yourself for 60 seconds whenever you catch yourself thinking you need something more than what you have at the moment.
- When life is good, enjoy it. Don’t go looking for something better. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have.
- The richest person isn’t the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least. Wealth is a mindset. Want less and appreciate more today.
- Happiness comes a lot quicker when you stop complaining about your problems and you start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have.
- The greatest secret to peace of mind is letting every life situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and then making the very best of it. (Angel and I discuss this further in the “Happiness” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Happiness does not start when “this, that or the other thing” is resolved. Happiness is what happens now, when you appreciate what you have.
- When life gives you every reason to be negative, think of one good reason to be positive. There’s always something to be grateful for.
- No, you won’t always get what you want. But remember this: There are lots of people who will never have what you have right now.
- Be grateful for your life. For your health, your family, your friends, and your home. Many people don’t have these things.
- Remind yourself how fortunate you are to be experiencing this moment right here, right now. The more you appreciate it, the better it’ll be.
- Choose to smile today by taking life moment by moment, complaining very little, and being thankful for the little things that mean a lot.
Rituals for Expressing Your Gratitude
Again, with all that we have going on – with all of life’s stressful distractions – it’s sometimes hard to remember to be grateful throughout the day. So I recommend forming some simple gratitude rituals to help you remember.
Here are three good examples, but I don’t recommend trying to form all of these rituals at once – try one at a time for 30 days, and see what best fits your personality and lifestyle:
- Wake up, repeat one of the above gratitude mantras to yourself as a morning meditation, and reflect on what you have to be grateful for.
- Keep an evening gratitude journal where you record the small wins of each day.
- When you sit down for a meal, close your eyes and give a moment of thanks to every person who made your meal possible (farmers, chefs, waitresses, etc.).
There are other gratitude rituals you can try too, of course, but these three are good starting points. (Angel and I build simple, life-changing rituals with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
And then just keep reminding yourself that you have more than enough to take the next step forward. I think you’ll find that you always do, and by appreciating this fact more frequently, you will begin to see what a miracle each moment truly is.
What are you most grateful for? Do you have any other thoughts on gratitude to share? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a reply below.
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Photo by: Susanne Feldt