It is in our human nature to want more in life. The more we succeed at something, the more we want to experience. This new media age is trying to convince us that more is better, and that we have to be different, possess more, or upgrade our lives until the sheer amount of stuff we have can finally make us happy. But maybe it is possible to instead learn how to celebrate and enjoy where we are and what we have in life, if not just for a moment.
I woke up today with the realization of how much my life has changed over the past years, including the things that surround me and the person I have become. I never understood how important gratitude was until now. I wish I had become more grateful in the past. Perhaps I wouldn’t have taken friends, family, and all those little things in life for granted.
Gratitude brings us happiness
So how do we define gratitude?Gratitude is the appreciation for one’s life. The more grateful we are for what we have right now, the less we feel a need for more. Click To Tweet
Before I dive deep into the topic of gratitude, I would love to share with you some of the things I am grateful for:
I lived on my own for about a decade – moving from place to place, or from one city to another. Most of the time I rented a flat or shared a bedroom with roommates. And for a long time, I craved so much for what I have right now. The only person I share a place with now is my partner. There is so much space, freedom, and calmness in our house.
I’m extremely thankful for the fact that our house has a nice backyard, which we use for having lunch outside when the weather is nice. And next to our backyard, we have an actual laundry room. Before this home, I had never had such a big room to take care of my clothes.
On top of that, we have a dishwasher (I didn’t even know what a dishwasher looked like until I moved to the Netherlands)! I never really saw one in Mexico, and my family definitely didn’t have one. Having a machine that does the dishes for me is extremely pleasant. I cannot think of a better way to be spoiled. My mom was surprised last time she visited me. She told me that I have so much comfort, and she was happy for me. I taught her how to use the dishwasher. At the age of 55, she hadn’t seen one either.
Vacuum cleaners are also rare in Mexico. Over 5 million people in Mexico live on less than 2 dollars a day. A vacuum cleaner is the last thing you would buy when you have other things to worry about. But I now have one, and I am grateful for it too.
Food in my fridge
I am also grateful for all the food that sits in my fridge. I had never had this many options when it comes to nurturing my body before. I used to worry about what I would eat the next day. But those days are over because there’s now plenty of food to go around.
I first saw the snow in December of 2012. I was 26, and I had just arrived to the Netherlands for the Christmas holidays. I will always remember the first moment that I got out of the train. I grabbed the snow from the ground, threw it in the air, and jumped with joy like a child. I am grateful that I can now enjoy the snow once a year.
Education and work
When I was little, all I wanted in life was to become an English teacher. Well, here I am – not only a teacher, but also an English writer! There used to be times that I worked 8 to 10 hours a day, commuting from one workplace to another. I am now so grateful to have the opportunity to work from home, work at my pace, and take as many breaks as I need or want.
The other day, my boyfriend suggested that I buy a new laptop. But to that I replied, “I just got this one six months ago, let me enjoy it before I get a new one!” Even though I bought my laptop second hand, it does a wonderful job. I then realized how grateful I was for having a laptop with which I can write down my ideas.
I had always dreamed of meeting someone like my partner, who actually calls me his wife, even though we are not married yet. Sometimes the memories from my past pop up and remind me how unlucky I was for many years. I used to feel undeserving of love. But when I get back to the present moment, I realize those days are over. Love is here to stay, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. I feel loved, taken care of, and listened to. I am very grateful for him.
I have fortunately managed to move from poverty thinking to abundance thinking, and I often repeat the affirmation of “I am worthy of making more money” to myself. I sometimes think about the times I had zero pesos in my bank account, and how that has changed. I am happy with what I have, and I know more is on its way in expected (and unexpected ways). I do not rely on money for my happiness, but I am thankful to have it.
The ability to travel
I am grateful for all the places I have been to. They used to be a part of my vision board and distant dreams, and now they’re a part of my memories. There are so many more things I am grateful for, and the list could go on and on.
How can we develop Gratitude?
There was a study done by the Greater Good Science Center, where three different groups of participants were asked to count their blessings by keeping a gratitude journal for six weeks. In one group they had the participants count their blessings once a week. The second group wrote down what they were grateful for three times a week. And the control group didn’t do anything. They then measured happiness with a variety of scales. In the end, they found out that the participants who counted their blessings once a week became happier.
It turned out that people who had to journal three times a week considered it a chore. So the good news is you don’t have to write down your blessings every day. Just doing this for even a few minutes a week can help you increase your gratitude and happiness levels. Of course, if developing a daily routine works for you, you should definitely stick to that.
So, before lusting after that new trip, the promotion, the new house, or the new shoes, try to appreciate what’s in your life now. You can be grateful for the small things and the big things. The more you notice these, the more abundant you will feel.
I am not suggesting you shouldn’t pursue new things in life. You can be ambitious while simultaneously developing a sense of gratitude. Happiness is the result of having a sense of achievement and gratitude. We need both.
I’d like to finish this post with this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I’ll let you reflect upon it. Do you remember a time in your life that you wished for something that you have right now?
If this post excites you, I’d like to encourage you to start journaling. Get a get a nice notebook or simply make note of your ideas on your phone.
I would love to hear from you. Comment below and let me know what are you grateful for, and how gratitude has already impacted your life.