Today I’d like to write about happiness. Many people want it, but so many people don’t find it. It sometimes feels like this elusive creature that everyone else has but you don’t. I used to feel that way. I used to be downright miserable. But now I’m not. I used to suffer from depression.
I now have complete strangers comment on how happy I am. Others say that I always have a smile on my face. Am I faking it? No. I really am this happy. But it doesn’t come naturally. I have to work to stay happy.
The secret to happiness is GRATITUDE. That’s right. Happiness has little to do with what you have in life or rather what you don’t have. Happiness has to do with how you perceive the life you do have.
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I love gathering with my family with delicious food and seeing everyone. But my favorite part is right before we eat. We all hold hands and say what we’re grateful for. Many years ago back when I was unhappy I never knew what to say when it was my turn, because deep down I wasn’t thankful. I felt entitled and neglected by the life I had and truly wasn’t grateful in a real sense for anything. Now when its my turn I have to cut my list short and only say a few things I’m grateful for because my real list is a mile long.
How to practice gratitude in your everyday life
You can start off small. I did. I remember looking out at this field on the side of the road. It was such a pretty shade of green and the grass was the perfect length and I realized that I thought it was beautiful. And I thought about all the hard work someone had to do to get that field to be its current state that I could enjoy it. Someone had mowed it, perhaps planted the grass too, hard work had gone into making that. And now it was a nice field for me to walk in, or play sports in, and generally enjoy. And I felt gratitude to those things that led that field to be there.
There are things like this you can be grateful for everyday! The world is full of amazing things that other people had to do to make them that way. Every time you turn on a light (electricity!), every time you eat (no famine!), every time you have running water even those are things to be insanely grateful for.
Doesn’t money affect happiness?
Yes, money does seem to make a difference in happiness levels overall. But that seems to be because there’s a threshold where you have enough to take care of your basic needs. After that, money doesn’t really matter in happiness. There was a study that found that people only became happier for emotional well-being up to $60,000 to $75,000 a year in earnings. After that more money didn’t make people happier. In fact they found that happiness could even decrease after $95,000 in earnings a year. More importantly they established that the cause of this unhappiness was due to people tying up their self-worth in status and financial earnings. In other words, they were unhappy because they compared themselves to others and focused on what they didn’t have instead of being grateful for the things they did have.
Overall, I believe that I found the secret to happiness and the secret to happiness is gratitude. Pure and simple.