No doubt, there’s a lot going on in the world right now, and it can be hard to simply carry on with all the things that you know are important. However, if there’s one skill that’s worth learning, one skill that’ll carry you through change and hardship like nothing else, it’s gratitude.
What Makes Change Hard?
Change in life can be one of the very hardest things to deal with. It can through all our delicate little coping strategies out of the window, making us feel impotent and useless. In short, it’s the antithesis of getting anything worthwhile done and feeling happy.
This is why we need to protect ourselves against upheaval and change, so we can roll with the punches and adapt habitually to new circumstances.
But what is happiness? Too many people think that happiness is wandering around with a drunken grin on our faces and being untouchable by the world. This isn’t it.
In reality, happiness is confidence and competence. It’s feeling adequate, accepted and needed, as well as content in your own mindset and drive.
This is what you need to be protecting through turmoil. This is what will keep you moving forwards, productive and driven. You need to look after your mindset, and your happiness, like a small, injured bird that can be crushed at any moment. Because when you start prioritising your own morale like this, you start delivering real results in your life.
We often overestimate what we can get done in a single day, but along the same lines, we massively underestimate what we can get done in a single year. With consistency, we can achieve huge, amazing things. But that all starts by protecting your morale and happiness, allowing you to work consistently.
Gratitude can be an amazing tool when it comes to weathering the difficult patches in life and making sure nothing hurts you too deeply. It’s not about not feeling the difficulties and hardships, it’s about seeing them, empathising with others experiencing them and then being pragmatic. It’s about knowing that everything could always be much, much worse. If you can master this, you can become invulnerable. Emotionally, at least.
Gratitude is a Superpower
Fundamentally, the way people view gratitude is absolutely wrong. We look at it and think “hmm, I need to say thank you more often”. It’s so much more than that. Gratitude is the pervasive realisation that actually, you’ve got it pretty good. It’s the understanding the people and the world don’t owe you anything at all, and that everything you’ve been given is the outcome of pure luck.
Even just being born was a one-in-a-million chance, and yet you got that, and then you’ve had a million other lucky breaks since then. No one lives to adult age without missing a thousand turns where things could have gone far, far worse.
Then you’ve got the loving people around you. Even if they don’t show it right, even if they might be a bit toxic, chances are, you’ve still got friends, family or acquaintances around you who treat you right. That’s a huge thing.
The superpower of gratitude comes into play when you simply think about all that and incorporate it into your worldview. How can failing to get a promotion put a dent in your mindset when you’re happy to simply be alive and well?
Gratitude is the greatest protection against life’s turbulence and knocks that you can build. It’ll see you laughing in the face of risk and putting other people’s wellbeing before your own. In short, it’ll help you become the person that you want to be. Because everyone wants to be the selfless pillar of the community that other people can count on, even if they won’t admit it.
Look After Your Circle and They’ll Look After You
This one is basically always true. If you put other people first, like gratitude will help you to do, they will start putting you first. Maybe not from day one, maybe not even from day one-hundred-and-one, but as people start to see your mindset and the way you treat others, they will be shamed and inspired into behaving better themselves.
The goal here isn’t to be holier-than-thou though. It’s to inspire change in yourself and people around you to build a stronger, healthier existence in a turbulent and changing world.Gratitude is often the only way to truly do this and making lasting, powerful change. Click To Tweet
If you look after the people you love around you, they will eventually repay the favour. Those of them who become embittered at your perceived righteousness might be toxic at first, but you know what your aims and goals are, and you know who you are, and gratitude can help guide you through these kinds of issues.
There’s absolutely nothing more vital when it comes to keeping happy through difficult times than perspective. Being able to see your situation for what it truly is and avoid becoming disheartened, disillusioned and jaded by it is key. Most of the time, when we get depressed, anxious and sad, it comes from an internal reaction to the situation, rather than the situation itself.
That’s not to say your feelings aren’t valid and the situation isn’t bad. But there’s a world of difference between failing to get a promotion and something far worse. And life offers a whole lot of far worse. Maintaining perspective allows you to see that, and lets you brush off what could be massively upsetting things as trivial.
Gratitude is key for perspective. No other single tool allows you to focus on the here and now more. Nothing else illustrates the reality of the world around you more clearly while making it abundantly clear that things are actually pretty good for you. You might call it optimistic self-manipulation, but isn’t it better to guide yourself to a place of optimistic realism rather than sit, hurt and jaded by things that you perceive as important but often really aren’t?
If there’s one thing that’s always going to be terrible for absolutely everybody’s mindset, it’s self-victimisation. Maintaining an internal narrative where you’re always the hurt party, always the person being injured and messed around is a weak philosophy that’ll see you unhappy and without agency or competence.
Without the agency to change our circumstances and lives around us, things get harder and harder to stay balanced and happy through. If you have a mindset that constantly feeds you a narrative of woe is me, you’re going to start believing that. You’re going to think that at some level the world is rigged against you, and worse, that your problems are worse than everybody else’s.
Let me dissuade you of that illusion right now. Your problems are exactly as bad as everyone else’s. But no worse. And do you know how you make them better than anyone else’s? It’s all in your response. It all comes down to the way you perceive these issues and react to them.
Gratitude is the key that opens that door. It lets you identify other people’s problems before you get fixated on your own. It allows you to see that things can always be worse and that we’ve always got things to be grateful for in life. These are undeniable truths that we all live with. To reject them and accept a life of self-victimisation is going to be subjecting yourself to unhappiness and the whims and turbulence of life itself.
Focus on Your Goals
It’s always going to be a hugely good thing to focus on your goals and aspirations. Even if it feels selfish and overly ambitious, it’s vital to have a plan, to have goals and to feel like you’re steadily moving in the right direction.
We humans need to feel like we’re working towards something bigger. Once you start feeling like you’re stationary and failing, it becomes hard to achieve anything at all.
Having a big long term plan and goal is always going to be a must-have if you want to progress in life and more importantly, feel like you’re progressing in life. That feeling of competence and forward momentum is always going to be one of the best, plausibly you could even label it happiness itself, or at the very least, righteousness.
Gratitude will help you stay on that path. You shouldn’t be overly satisfied with each small victory to the point where it slows your forward progress, but neither should you be so disheartened when things go wrong that you fall off the wagon either. You need a balance, and gratitude in its many forms can help you achieve that.