Gratitude is the pleasure and joy you direct in response to kindnesses and positive elements of your life. Too often, we find ourselves with a big pile of possessions, a happy relationship ticking along, a decent job and even kids, and we’re unhappy, we want more.
Partially that’s going to be down to modern individualistic conditioning, with everyone being told from birth that they’re inexpressibly special and unique, and destined to be famous or acclaimed, replete with wealth, fame and achievement. This makes it hard to accept normal life, even when it’s going great.
What’s the cure then? I’d say gratitude. Gratitude to your partner, for loving you, gratitude to your job, for supporting you, gratitude to your cat, for not vomiting on the lounge carpet. Just feeling happy at all the great things you have in your life. It doesn’t matter how bad things might seem to be going right now, there’s always something to be grateful for. Here’s some of the ways in which gratitude can lead to a happier life.

Appreciate the People around You More

Even if it’s just an old lady smiling at you on the street, appreciate the honest desire of other people to put you at ease, and be warm towards you. There’s a lot of goodness in people, and if you stop and open yourself to gratitude, you’ll feel it, and be happier overall. Appreciating the people around you more doesn’t just benefit you either, it makes people feel loved and attended to.

I guarantee, if you start paying more attention to what loved ones around you do for you, and start showing more gratitude, that investment will pay back thousand-fold as your relationships strengthen, and your family or partner see that you truly care.

If you start paying more attention to what your loved ones do for you, and start showing more gratitude, it will pay back thousand-fold as they will see that you truly care.

This doesn’t just tighten your close relationships either. Being more open and understanding of people in general will allow you to focus on what’s important, and get out of your own head. Instead of worrying about how you look, think about how people around are probably experiencing the exact same thing, and make them feel attractive with a friendly, even flirty smile. Flirting doesn’t have to be about romance or sex, sometimes it can just be about making a stranger feel accepted and attractive.

Accept and Move on From Failure More Gracefully

Okay, so you didn’t get that promotion. Steve from Accounts got it. And that sucks, but it is not an issue. The only reasons it could be an issue stem from your own desire for more. Planning how you’re going to spend the extra money, expectation of more responsibility and power. You don’t really need those things. Chances are, your job is pretty great as it is, even if you hate it.

Regardless of what happens in our lives, we always return to the same baseline of happiness eventually

Ever heard of the concept of the Hedonistic Treadmill? That’s the idea that regardless of what happens in our lives, we always return to the same baseline of happiness eventually. Lose an arm to gangrene? Eventually, you’ll be just as happy as you ever were. Same goes for winning the lottery. That means that constantly yearning for a promotion, a new car, a more attractive girlfriend is essentially a waste of time. You’re looking to fix other problems with superficial things that’ll only make you happy in the short term
Buddhism focuses heavily on improving your happiness baseline, and gratitude is a big part of that. Without appreciating what you already have in your life, how can you possibly hope to improve the situation with more stuff? We’re not saying give up on going for that promotion, but put things in perspective. You failed, you didn’t get it, and it doesn’t matter.

Value What You Have, and Stop Coveting

According to the bible, covetousness is a deadly, mortal sin. Sadly, however, we all do it constantly. We’re all jealous, we all want what other people have, be it a holiday, a better body, whatever. We all do it, and it’s not a healthy state of mind to find yourself in.

continue to part 2