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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.