Saturday, April 8, 2017

A to Z of Happiness: G - Gratitude #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

The root of our unhappiness lies in the fact that human beings, as a general rule, are inclined towards hedonistic adaption. 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

  1. Gratitude checks our hedonistic adaption tendencies.

    I first noticed this tendency when I used to play FarmVille on Facebook. We all had become 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! Because most of what we have is just occupying space in our life, without adding any meaning. It is like a madness!

    Practicing gratitude for all our little achievements puts a stop to this insatiable insanity. It removes the meaningless clutter from our life and helps SIMPLIFY it. (Covered under 'S'.) 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.

  2. 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, by allowing us to DISREGARD the negative circumstances. (Covered under 'D'.)

  3. Gratitude raises our self esteem.

    We are usually conditioned to focus on our shortcomings and failures... all the things that we don't have in life.

    I can't do this!
    I'm so bad at this!
    I don't have this!

    This takes a huge toll on our OPTIMISM quotient. (Covered under 'O'.)

    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 we suffer from self-worth issues and pessimism, when we KNOW, for a fact, that we are living in so much abundance?

  4. 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.

    Remembering to appreciate the people in our life for whatever value they add in our life, helps us treat them with LOVE (covered under 'L') and kindness. It also allows us to FORGIVE (covered under 'F') them easily for any mistakes.

  5. 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".

    Our THOUGHTS (covered under 'T') create our destiny. And practicing gratitude is one "mental trigger" that can instantly change our state of mind from negative to positive.

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 A to Z of Happiness.

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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Parul said...

Like you I had my share of hard times and they continue but I have learnt to be grateful and that really helps in you ways like you suggested. Yes, I am one of those blog buddies of yours who practices gratitude like a ritual. and why not? it keeps me happy :)

Suzy said...

Gratitude attracts more things to be grateful for - I truly believe that. We should gracefully and sincerely give and receive gratitude.

Suzy at Someday Somewhere - Great minds

My Cozy Book Nook said...

I try to practice gratitude each and every day. In fact, my G post today is also on gratitude :)
Journaling: G is for Gratitude

Rajlakshmi said...

Being grateful for the things we have achieved keeps us down to earth. Wonderful article on gratitude and how to keep our spirits high and positive,

Sanch Writes said...

I still don't actively practice gratitude but I really want to...I know the benefits. I should really start to do that...I'd planned to do it this year but after the first couple of days, it was forgotten.

Ghazal - Love

Val said...

Gratitude is life changing. I have been linking up to the Ten Things of Thankful weekly blog hop for over two years. You make a good point about expecting more and more and forgetting about what is there, right in front of us, that we take for granted. My Virtual Vineyard

Operation Awesome said...

This a a great post with many good points. (Farmville... the memories! The addiction. Yikes.)
Our team is grateful for writers who never give up.
We're grateful for agents who offer guidance.
Debut authors who have put their first book out there have our gratitude.
And readers, without which writers could not go on, to them we offer our eternal gratitude.

Weekends in Maine said...

When our girls were younger we use to play them a song by Jimmy Buffett "An Attitude of Gratitude". I love that song. It's important to remember to be grateful for not just the big stuff but the everyday moments too. WeekendsInMaine

jaish_vats said...

Being grateful makes us better persons in short....

Shilpa Garg said...

I so agree about the how hard it is to be grateful during tough times, but yes, have seen that it is during these times that we need to more grateful than ever.

Cathy Graham said...

Wise words, Chicky. Thanks for reminding us to practice daily gratitude. I do most of the time but am challenged when things so wrong and can fall into the Poor Me rut. Sorry you've had a tough time of it but good you can rise above it all and still be grateful for what you have. A good way to be!

SlimExpectations said...

another great post, and Gratitude is so so important!

Vinodini Iyer said...

I try to find happiness in small things all the time. Looking out for big things always leads to disappointments. Gratitude for all the big and small things that we are blessed with makes way for more, I feel. Thanks for the reminder. :)

An@mi said...

I do not practice gratitude, but i want to and i will. Its all about positivity.

Amrita Basu Misra said...

I actively practice gratitude and thankfulness.Infact I host a #ThankfulThursdays blog hop with 3 other wonderful ladies ,because we have all found the magic of gratitude,A big yes to all that you say.The biggest one is it helps us find happiness

Vidya Sury said...

Yes, Gratitude transforms the way we see our world. I maintain a gratitude journal. And I host a monthly bloghop on the last Thursday of every month :-) where I get to celebrate gratitude with others who share their stories. Great choice for G, Chicky!

Pat Holloway said...

This is such an important post, thank you for sharing.


*Patricia Holloway*

*Missives From Missouri*

Swathi Shenoy said...

I have seen some of my blog buddies practice gratitude too. I remember thinking that I should do it too but had forgot about the whole thing. Your post reminded me of that and you convinced me why it is important.

Great Indian Sale

The Average Mom said...

The whole write up is amazing and I love how you compared it with playing Framville and explained the behaviour. Going through a time in life where I feel nothing is going right for me i continuously forget to be grateful and show gratitude. This post was helpful. Invite you to please come read my short story about social issues

Patricia said...

I write down in my calendar at least one thing I am grateful for every day. I also post at Ten Things of Thankful most weeks. Gratitude does change your attitude and perspective making life better and easier to navigate.

Chicky Kadambari said...

Hi Parul!Yes, I have seen you participate in a gratitude blog hop... Vidya's, right?
It sure does help in getting through the tough times.
Thanks for visiting!

Chicky Kadambari said...

We should, Suzy! Thank you for reading this and sharing your views!

Chicky Kadambari said...

@My Cozy Book Nook: Oh really? I must go read it! :)
Thank you for stopping by!

Chicky Kadambari said...

"Down to earth". That's the phrase I was looking for, Raji! Thank you! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

Hi Sanch! I know. You've had a full plate all this while, and it is difficult to think about gratitude in stress. Hope things smooth out soon at your end! Hugs! :D

Chicky Kadambari said...

Hi Val! I recently read a post in this blog hop. I've seen Thankful Thursdays very often, and of course, Vidya's monthly Gratitude Circle. Being grateful for what we have, helps in keeping us grounded, as Raji said above. Thank you for visiting! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

That's a lot of gratitude sharing, Operation Awesome! :) Thanks for visiting!

Chicky Kadambari said...

I'll have to check it out, WeekendsInMaine! Yes, the daily moments are what make our life what it is, aren't they? :)
Thanks for visiting!

Chicky Kadambari said...

That's true, Jaish! Thank you :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

Hi Shilpa! Didn't you make Aryan maintain a daily gratitude journal once?

Chicky Kadambari said...

Thank you, Cathy! I have a lot to be thankful for, and focusing on that makes me feel blessed! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

Thank you, Slim Expectations! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

True that, Vinodini! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

It sure is, An@mi! I hope you start on it soon! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

Ohhhh! So you're the host, Amrita! I've seen participating posts on so many blogs (always long after Thursday!) but I didn't know you were one of the hosts! Well, it is a great initiative!

Chicky Kadambari said...

I know about your linkup, Vidya. I've been trying to remember to participate in it for the last 3 months! :P
Hopefully, one of these days, I'll actually manage to do it before the linky closes! :D

Chicky Kadambari said...

Thank you, Pat! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

I'm glad my post could inspire you, Swathi! Thank you! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

Hi Smita! I'm so glad you found this article helpful! I hope you sail through these times easily and quickly! Thank you for stopping by and sharing. I'll be there in a while.

Chicky Kadambari said...

Daily gratitude journal is brilliant, Patricia. I did that for just 1 week, and my whole state of mind shifted! It is easy being grateful now.

Deepa said...

Completely agree..Gratitude can help us get more things in life to be thankful for. We have a linky party called #ThankfulThursdays. Do link up this post with us.

Chicky Kadambari said...

So you are one of the co-hosts of #ThankfulThursdays? I just discovered above that Amrita is too! :)
Ok I'll like it up with you guys.

Anita said...

Totally with you! Gratitude is wonderful.
I believe- If we are grateful, God will give us more to be grateful about. We have so much with us that counting our blessings is tough :)
Let all express gratitude.

Chicky Kadambari said...

True, Anita. Counting all our blessings is probably not even possible! Thank you for stopping by!

Random Musings said...

I think learning to celebrate small wins and appreciating everything you do have instead of moaning about what you don't have is a great way to start to feel true happiness

Geetika Gupta said...

This is so true, Chicky! Gratitude heals more than we can ever imagine. I wonder, why wait for special occasions and celebrate more in life about little things !


Chicky Kadambari said...

Rightly said, Debbie! Thank you for stopping by :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

Gratitude sure does have healing power, Geetika. Thank you for stopping by! :)

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