They say one of the most direct paths to happiness is to be grateful with what you have and where you are. We take too many things for granted today and often end up with a sense of entitlement that we don’t deserve. Too many times I see people not being grateful for what they have and always wanting more. If you are a parent, sit in the room for five minutes with your kid and you will see what I mean. But ungratefulness is not limited to kids. I have witnessed this too many times as well. I’ll let you in on a secret. I can be ungrateful sometimes too.
It’s Only Natural
I believe it is only natural to take for granted the things we have. I take for granted that my kids will go to school and come home safe. I take for granted that my wife will be there when I need her. I take for granted my friends who I can always have lunch with tomorrow, but not today. I know this may sound grim, but we are only promised death in this life. Nothing else. Maybe instead of taking things for granted, we can be grateful for what we have today.
We don’t just take people for granted, we take privileges and luxuries for granted as well. Have you said or heard anyone say any of these:
- My cell phone can’t do facial recognition. I need the new one.
- I can’t find anything on TV to watch.
- I hate when my Uber is late.
My point here is that we tend to have so many privileges and luxuries today that we take for granted and thus feel entitled for even more. I know that every time I get a new car and find a new feature I really like, I turn to my wife and say, “This is the new minimum requirement for any car we buy.” We all do it and don’t even realize it. But if we take the time each day to be grateful, our world can change.
For the last 18 months, I have been writing in a gratitude journal. I read about this in one of Tony Robbins’ books and figured I would give it a try. Each day I take a few minutes and ask myself the following questions:
- What is one thing in my past that I am grateful for?
- What is one thing I am grateful for right now?
- Who is one person I am grateful for today?
Every morning, as part of my POP Hour (I’ll tell you more about that on a Wisdom Wednesday), I sit, think, and answer these questions. I record the answers on my phone in an application called Grid Diary. It helps me to remember the things and people in my life that are important to me. This practice has helped change my outlook on life and can do the same for you. I have found the following benefits of this practice:
- It slows me down and makes me take time for gratitude.
- It makes me think of all the things I have, in past and present that I may be taking for granted and thus must acknowledge and appreciate.
- It makes me think of at least one person a day that I care about and how I would feel if I did not have them. It helps me appreciate my relationships.
The Gratitude Journal has a long term effect as well. As you take some time each day to be grateful, you start to change. You will find yourself being grateful for things in your life without even trying. This can manifest itself in many ways. I find that I am more understanding when things do not go my way. When things don’t go my way, I am reminded of all the things that have. You know, I can’t have it all.
I simply want to stress that we have to have an appreciation for everything we have in our lives, because nothing is guaranteed to us. Here is a frustrating thought. You can do everything right, dot the i’s and cross the t’s, and still things not work out. All you can do is your best and be content with your effort. Be grateful when things go your way, and graceful when they do not. Practice gratitude daily and watch how you slowly change to a person full of gratitude and appreciation for every blessing you are given in life.