It’s been said that the secret to happiness is to be content with what you have. I’d like to suggest that we should take it a step further. Contentment alone is lacking, but being content and grateful together is really a powerful combination.

Contentment is a like neutral state of being where you don’t desire more or less – almost a zen-like existence. When a negative incident arises, contentment tells us, “It is what it is.” That does not really describe true happiness or joy, does it? 

Now when we talk about gratefulness, this emotion comes from a overflowing joy, which goes beyond a neutral state. When gratefulness wells up, we feel a sense of fulfillment and comfort beyond any state of neutral contentment. We can hardly keep a smile in when we recognise gifts and blessings that we have in our lives. The delight that springs up can be hard to hide.

Try it right now: Think of something you are truly grateful for. 

Trace back to how it came to be a part of your life, your journey, your life experience. All the things that happened that you witnessed and all the things that had to happen that you did not see had to fall into place for whatever that blessing is to come into your life. Do you feel it? Do you feel that sense of gratitude in your heart that goes beyond contentment. 

The more you know that it couldn’t have just been you alone to orchestrate those blessings or achievements, the more gratitude you will feel. If you indeed have a hard time feeling gratitude for past accomplishments, then I would say that it’s because you believe you did it all by yourself and that the feeling in your chest is not necessarily gratefulness but a sense of pride. Unfortunately, pride can stand in the way of a joyful life.

Moreover, the reality is that our lives and our successes cannot exist in isolation of others. It is more realistic and certainly humbling to embrace the fact that there are people in your life who helped you get to where you are… Click To Tweet


So what are some steps you can take to foster a grateful heart?

  1. Take some time to take stock of your entire life. If you are older, this may take a while longer but it is well worth the exercise! Think of all the people who played a part in your successes. See, there was no way you could achieved all you have just by yourself and your resources.
  2. Identify bitterness. Search your heart for any trace of bitterness against people or painful circumstances in the past. Make a decision to forgive even if you don’t feel like it or even if they don’t “deserve” forgiveness. After all, no one really “deserves” forgiveness because none of us can make up entirely for the wrongs we have caused others. Waiting on someone to make it up to you until you feel completely healed is just asking for misery and disappointment. It will do your heart and soul such good to forgive and let go of all malice and bitterness.
  3. Choose a few people to tell them you are grateful for them. It’s great to be grateful for people in your life, but take it a step further. Communicate and share that gratefulness with them. Tell them why you appreciate them. That little message of thankfulness and encouragement could change their lives. We all need to know that we mattered and made a difference to someone in some way or another.
  4. Start your day off being grateful. Giving thanks for your first cup of coffee or breakfast, for example, is a wonderful start. Take some quiet time in the morning and give thanks for your job, your family, the ability to go to work knowing many can’t, the clothes you have. Whatever it is, this is a real life-changing exercise anyone can do.

A life-long process of being grateful can begin right now.

If you are lacking joy in your life, you could be needing a fresh injection of some gratefulness. So, what are you waiting for? Give yourself that injection and a joyful life above and beyond contentment can be yours.

With the recent tragic news about the deaths of Kate Spade, designer whose name was synonymous with style and fun, and Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef and TV host, it’s time that we really talk about mental health. Combined with data from the WHO ( showing that in the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 (male and female). 

Emotional troubles don't pay attention to income, and people who seem to “have it all” can also have the mental health difficulties that cause people to kill themselves.  Click To Tweet

Emotional troubles don’t pay attention to income, and people who seem to “have it all” can also have the mental health difficulties that cause people to kill themselves. 

“Whether you’re at church or at school or in an office, some portion of the room is having thoughts of suicide, now or recently,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). “The fact is that if you think your life has not been touched by suicide ever, it probably means that it’s just not being talked about.” How can we be more open about mental health in the same way that we are open about physical health issues? 

Those of us who work and live in busy and competitive urban areas, know too well the treadmill of daily routine, out of balance work-life harmony and the constant draw to our screens. 

Adding to the stress of being trying to over up our anxiety and depression, there is the social stigma especially in Asia that surrounds talking about topics like depression, anxiety, therapy and suicide. We dare not talk about these things or even hint that we suffer from them for fear of being looked down upon or being weak and unprofessional. This fear creates a vacuum of isolation for us and sucks us into a deep vortex of dark thoughts. I’ve been there and done that and you can contact me to get a copy of my testimony of how I found my way out of depression and suicidal temptations.

How can we better handle and take care of our emotional health by infusing joy, meaning and connectedness to others?

Here are 4 suggestions you can take now to care for yourself emotionally:

1. Have Meaningful Conversations to Really Connect 

Does anyone really have it all together? That friend who you see on social media and looks like she has a great job and fulfilling social life may seem all put together, but in reality could she be fighting her inner demons, struggling emotionally and crying herself to sleep when she’s alone?

You will never know if you only talk about small talk or gossip when you meet her for coffee or brunch. Those of us who know what it’s like to have been brushed aside or judged when we mention depression are wary of sharing our struggles with just anyone. So, it’s important to find safe people who we can truly connect with.

Truly connecting with friends and family now can offer the deep connections that give life meaning and give you a safe person to go to when you are at your wit’s end in your emotional struggle and you feel like you need to escape.

Identify safe people whom you can trust. Someone you can talk to and pray with when you are in a state of emotional crisis. You will know who these people are. Reach out to them and have a meaningful talk about how you are doing with emotional balance and let them know why you appreciate having them in your life.

If you have trouble opening up to friends and family, a mental health professional can be an independent, confidential person in whom to confide.

“There is effective treatment available and there is hope,” said Dr. Selena Snow, founder of the Snow Psychology Group.

2. Know Yourself and What Brings You Joy

Knowing yourself and listing down activities that bring you joy can be a lifesaving list. When you write down the things that give you a simple joy such as, painting, journaling, dancing, working out, praying, reading, watching a movie, you have an immediate go-to list you can use when you are feeling down. Keep it as a note on your phone so you can easily refer to it. Share this list with a safe person so that can help you refer to it when you need help.

3. Change the venue

When you are feeling down and locking yourself out of the world, ask for strength to get up and out and do an errand even if it’s just to go out for a coffee. Commit to getting up, wash your face, and freshening up before you leave the house.

4. Working Out Works

It’s evident that when you work out, your cortisol or stress hormones are greatly reduced and endorphins the feel-good hormones are released. I get that it can be hard to make yourself workout when you’re feeling down and don’t really want to pull a pair of leggings or sports bra on but rather lay down on your bed, so text a friend and invite them to workout with you and you’d be more likely to commit.

Another good idea is to invest in a few workout tools you can keep near your bed like resistance bands and dumbbells where you can just pick them up and start working out even in your bedroom.

Emotional brokenness is just as real and important as any chronic physical illness. I hope that more conversations will be started about how we can bring these issues to the light and help those who are struggling secretly in shame and… Click To Tweet


Anyone who feels depressed, lonely or suicidal can call the following service numbers: 

The Samaritans of Thailand 02-713-6793 (Thai), 02-713-6791 (English) or 02-713-6790 (for those interested in volunteering). 

The Department of Mental Health can be reached on 1323 (Thai).

Samaritans of Thailand


(02) 713 6793 (Thai)

12:00 noon to 22:00 hours/day., 7 days a week

(02) 713-6791(English call back service within 24 hours)

24 hours/day, 7 days/week

Chiang Mai

(053) 225-977/8 (Thai)

19:00 – 22:00 hrs

(Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat)