The root of our unhappiness lies in the fact that human beings, as a general rule, are inclined towards hedonistic adaptation. Seeking pleasure, by itself, is not so bad. But getting used to it and taking it for granted, feeling a sense of "entitlement" towards it, that's a perfect recipe for disappointments, frustrations and unhappiness.
Most of us keep waiting for something big to happen in our lives, so that we could take out our fine china and open that bottle of expensive wine to celebrate. But that gives us so few opportunities to celebrate in life, doesn't it? If we only focus on the "big" things in life, we'll spend most of our life being unhappy.
The last decade of my life has been tough. There were a lot of setbacks, harassment and illnesses, and hardly any of the so-called "big" things that I could celebrate. (Except for my sister's wedding and my move to Jaipur perhaps, and even these were lined with so many little frustrations!)
That's when I learnt to appreciate the "little" blessings in my life. Most of all, my own body. (Which is probably the one thing that is taken most "for granted" and abused!)
I don't want to start a list here of all the things I learnt to be grateful for... (maybe some other time, in some other post) but I do want to share what I realized about the importance of gratitude in staying happy.
5 Ways In Which Gratitude Leads To Happiness
Gratitude checks our hedonistic adaption tendencies.I first noticed this tendency when I used to play FarmVille on Facebook. We all had become so addicted to getting ALL the new stuff released in the game! It didn't matter whether we had any use for them or not, we wanted them anyway. If only to dump them in our "storage"! We'd become hoarders! And we hardly spent any time enjoying the things we'd already won in the game, because we would immediately start trying to get the "next" thing!
Our happiness, on achieving something new, is so short lived! The more we get, the more we want! And the more dissatisfied we become with what we have! It is like a madness!
Practicing gratitude for all our little achievements puts a stop to this insatiable insanity. It prevents us from taking the good for granted, and helps us in remaining detached from the positive circumstances in our life. "This too shall pass." So enjoy it while it lasts.
Gratitude helps us sail through tough times.This is actually just the reverse of the above point. Gratitude keeps us from getting attached to the positivity in our life, but at the same time, it also helps us maintain an emotional distance from our rough times, because we realize that even they will pass!
Good times, bad times... they're BOTH merely passing through our life. We don't identify with either. We're not "entitled" to either.
Practicing gratefulness helps us remember that. Consequently, it reduces the intensity of our suffering during stressful and traumatic times.
Gratitude raises our self esteem.We are usually conditioned to focus on our shortcomings and failures... and all the things we don't have in life. "I can't do this... I'm so bad at this... I don't have this...!"
Making a conscious effort to remain grateful shifts our focus to our virtues, accomplishments, and all that we DO have in life. "I am awesome at this! I did that! I have this, this, and this! I have soooo much!"
How can you suffer from self worth issues when you KNOW, for a fact, that you're living in so much abundance?
Gratitude improves our interpersonal relationships.If we were to make a list of the most "taken for granted" items in our life, our family and friends... people who love us and are always there for us... will probably take second place (after our own body). They're the ones who are most exploited and unappreciated!
All of us like being appreciated. Yet, all of us are so miserly when it comes to appreciating others. If WE feel so happy when someone sincerely thanks us for something, doesn't it then follow that OTHERS will also feel equally happy on receiving a sincere word of appreciation from us?
It is basic human nature, isn't it? We like being with people who appreciate us. We tend to do MORE for the people who appreciate us.
Gratitude attracts more of things to be grateful for.This follows logically from the previous point. If we express our sincere gratitude to the people in our life, they automatically do more for us. If we express our gratitude for that as well, they do even more.
Thus forms a cycle that feeds and strengthens itself. This works not just with people, but with the entire Universe. This is the "Law of Abundance".
I know from personal experience that it is almost impossible to remain thankful when nothing seems to be working in your life, when whatever you do goes wrong. But, I also know (again, from personal experience) that it is even more important to stay grateful during such times.
Gratitude is not just a word. It is a way of living, acquired through diligent conscious practice and mindfulness. Being thankful for the little things. The food on our plate and all those random strangers who've worked to get it there. Our family and friends. Our sometimes shitty jobs that still help us make ends meet. Our newspaper vendor, who gets up at such ungodly hour in the morning, just to ensure that we get our daily dose of news with our morning tea. The guards in our building, who open the gate for us so that we don't have to get out of our car.
If we start thinking about it, the list will be endless, you know! We'd end up saying "Thanks" at least 10,000 times a day! How can we remain unhappy if we have so much to be thankful for?
Do you practice gratitude as a part of your daily life? I know some of my regular blog buddies do. Would you care to share your experiences since you started expressing gratitude?
This is my seventh post for AtoZ2017.
I have completed this challenge once before, and published it as a kindle ebook.
You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.
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