I always cringe a bit with the gratitude seekers. It’s a semantic thing; we agree on what we are each looking for. I just don’t think of gratitude.
I prefer to think in terms of seeking the good in everything. Not QUITE the same as gratitude. But there is always something good in your day, no matter how bad and frustrating it seems.
If you can learn to focus on the good things and not the problems, you’re halfway to heaven! If you want to call that gratitude, you have my blessing!
Happiness isn’t really about a ridiculously ideal state, where you have “everything you want” or other such unreal notions. It’s about the process of living – extracting as much worth out of your circumstances as you can.
In that sense it doesn’t matter if you are rich or broke: happiness is working with what you’ve got.
The belief that getting rich will bring you happiness is a delusion for fools. There are many rich and miserable people who sold themselves out in the pursuit of dollars.
However, I am not a wealth nihilist. I just paint a different picture: it’s the search, the JOURNEY to wealth that brings happiness. If riches is really what you want, then living the life of a seeker of wealth can be very pleasurable. Overcoming the many obstacles in your path can be very satisfying and fulfilling. You just need to make sure there are enough “wins” to keep you cheerful.
Researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough looked into the value of gratitude. The results were plain as day. In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.
Also, interestingly, they reported that doing this seemed to make attaining goals easier. Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.
Maybe you should start a gratitude journal for yourself, especially now, in gloomy times. Each night, before you go to sleep, write down 5 things that you have cause to be grateful for. These don’t have to be really “big deal” things; a nice meal or a kiss are just as valid.
My point is that WHATEVER happened, there would be some good in it. Find the good!
If you are in a relationship, it can be great for the two of you to do this together. True insight into what brings joy to your partner is one of the most valuable social skills you can cultivate.
Emmons, R.A., & McCullough, M.E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: Experimental studies of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389