Gratitude is one of the secrets to happiness. It’s hard to feel anger, hurt, or resentment when we seek out reasons to be grateful. Gratitude is an expression of thanks, a feeling of appreciation, and a desire to share the warmth of kindness in return. When we are grateful, we take time to recognize and appreciate the good in our lives. We are so blessed to witness the beauty of nature, the miracle of life, and the overall inherent goodness of the world. There is as much splendor to behold in each day as there is sadness and pain. Gratitude is another daily choice we can make that, while small, adds up to have a big impact over our lifetime.
On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“It is impossible to come into contact with Native American spirituality and not be struck with the immensity of the gratitude expressed. There is a gentle, quiet, flowing form of gratitude that runs as deep as the still lakes and soars as high as the peaked mountains. The Native American form of gratitude is peaceful. This peacefulness permeates all their legends and stories.
Sometimes we feel that if everything isn’t perfect, we cannot be grateful for anything. We easily fall into all-or-nothing thinking, When we do, we miss the sunrise and the other forms of goodness that surround us.”
All-or-nothing thinking is a trap I fall into often. The world doesn’t work in ultimatums, though, and when we view everything as either black or white, pass or fail, we miss out on all the subtle variations and nuances of color in between that make life interesting. We miss out on the joy. Life will never be perfect, and if we only allow ourselves to be happy when it is, then… well, we will never be happy, will we? Isn’t it better to enjoy life as much as we possibly can while we live it, instead of waiting for some future perfect state that will never arise? When we work to feel gratitude each day rather than base our happiness on meaningless milestones or status symbols, we find reasons to feel happiness in our day-to-day lives. The things that make us feel thankful to be alive. That fill us with joy and warmth. The more we look for reasons to be happy, the more happiness we feel. Because the very nature of gratitude is giving, it involves feelings of thankfulness and appreciation toward others, which in turn boosts our own happiness in a never-ending karmic circle.
Nature is a good example: Amazing in its beauty, and yet it goes overlooked, taken for granted because it’s just always there. How much happier would we be if we stopped to appreciate it each day? To take in the beauty of a sunset? The splendor of a sunrise? To notice the vibrant reds and deep blues of a bird’s feathers, a flower’s petals? There is so much to notice and appreciate each day, so much for which we can be grateful. We just need to seek it out.