In spite of what you might read in up-lifting memes and blogs, Happiness is not always just a thought away. Happiness and sadness are reactions, not choices. Some of us have a lot of trouble accessing Happiness moment to moment.
Gratitude, though, is a choice. It is an option in how we choose to react to the world, and it changes how the world feels. It might be impossible to simply choose happiness, but choosing gratitude first will often lead you there.
Dr. Brené Brown points out that people who cultivate gratitude are more likely to allow themselves to be joyous and live that moment to its fullest. Choosing to react with gratitude changes how you process the event, and how much you let yourself enjoy it. The closer we look, the more we notice and try appreciate the good in even the small things, the more fully we are living.
Gratitude, then, is a decision to take the most, the best, of situations in your life. When you make that choice, you get to see the best first and put the focus there. It doesn’t mean ignoring that bad things can happen. Instead it is about putting them in perspective and not letting worry steal the moment. It is about being mindful that the joyous moment won’t last and being in the moment while you can. It is about being thankful to people but also to whatever spark began the chain of events that is your life, and about knowing that the natural odds were against you… any of us… having lives at all much less the capacity to enjoy them. Your very life, and all that happens in it, is an improbable blessing!
And seeing those blessings makes it easier to be your best, to give your best, in the community. Gratitude can power your activism, your spiritual practice, and your charity. It can be the spark that gets you through a bad day, reminding you that you have blessings to share. That helps others have more to be grateful for, too! Maybe we can create a cycle that makes the whole world a little better.
Most of the people who will read this were born with some blessings; health, access to education, access to technology, and the mental capability to put them all to use are all blessings; many people lack one or more in their lives. Some of us have been given blessings we don’t even know to count. Things like health, the culture into which we fit, and even the ability to learn and understand information are often overlooked as things some people have less of than we might.
Seeing the good fortune in even these mundane things makes it both easier and more important to give the world your best, thereby making a slightly better world for everyone else. Gratitude makes one want to lift up others in response to the joy of having something to share.
So, it seems to me like we could all benefit from building a habit of gratitude. It won’t happen all at once, but there is no deadline after which you have to give up. Every day that you wake up, you can choose to keep working on being in those moments, big or small, and being glad for them while they last.
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