It is far, far too easy to focus on everything that we don’t have in our lives. This causes depression, feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, and a whole other range of negative feelings that we could really do without. There’s a secret antidote to this, however, and it’s so simple that you might wonder how you ever lived without it. It is: giving thanks! Whether you’re religious or not, sharing a few moments of gratitude with the universe for all you have is the key to a happy life, and will bring you a level of joy that no product or even experience can match. Here’s how it’s done.
Get Some Perspective
Everyone needs some perspective every now and again, but it’s much harder when we live hectic lives in a busy urban area. On any given day we might: have a rushed morning, have a terrible day at work, be stuck in traffic, and have an evening where we do little other than make dinner and fall asleep. If we live in a busy city, this cycle might become our entire lives. When it’s like this, it’s hard to look at the bigger picture and give a nod of thanks for all we have. But take a step back and you’ll soon see that you live a pretty charmed life. Take a trip out to somewhere beautiful, somewhere where you can see stars, and look at your life from outside. It doesn’t look so bad, does it? Make that part of your cycle too, whether it’s once a week or month, and see the world anew.
At the End of Each Day
Remember the list of bad things that might have happened during your day that I mentioned above? Well though they weren’t great, they were only a handful of things that happened during your day. Many more things happened also, and they most definitely were not all bad. For example, did you have a nice lunch? Were you able to buy a special coffee? Do you have somewhere to sleep tonight? We’re conditioned to want more and more, but we should really be thankful for what we have. At the end of each day, make a list, written or mental, of all the good things that you had in your day. You don’t need to go overboard and get all sentimental about a nice coffee; just listing them will reinforce good thoughts and feelings.
Spread the Love To Your Family
Your family have always done their best, whether it feels like it or not. All families are complicated, and we might feel hurt and let down by some actions of our immediate family, but they’ll always be your family - and you should be making sure you're doing all you can to make them feel thrived by life. When your parents are getting old, make sure they’re well taken care of; make sure they have enough food in the fridge, or click here to find a senior living community. With your siblings, make sure they know how much you value them. Spreading kindness to others can bring a deep sense of joy, which shows that humans by nature are inherently kind - and lets your family know you are thankful for having them in your life.
...And To Strangers
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own lives, and to see everyone else in the world as merely a small character in a universe that is our own. But don’t forget: every single person on the planet is going through something, they’re experiencing the same highs and lows as you are, have anxieties and insecurities just as you, and want to be happy just like you also. Don’t brush them off, or think that in any way are you superior to them. Treat every single person as you would like to be treated. You would be nowhere without your fellow man (really! What would you do if other people weren’t around to prop you up?), so giving thanks for them is one to show gratitude for your life.
Compare With Yourself
Humans get to their lowest points when they compare where they’re up to in their life with other people. Perhaps your friend has a house and a car, while you’re still struggling to pay rent. Maybe another friend travels the world, while you feel tied down by a house and a mortgage. Everybody wants something they don’t have, and no matter how great a person’s life might be, it won’t be perfect - perhaps what is unique about theirs is that they don’t let their problems bring them down. If you have to compare, do so against yourself - where you’ve been, how you’ve grown, and so on. Odds are, you’ve come a long way without even realising it.
In all likelihood, you’ll have eaten or drank something today without even stopping to actually taste what you’re putting in your mouth. Learning to be more thankful for your life is about opening yourself up to the wonders of life, to let your senses really feel what’s happening. This can be taking the time to enjoy a prepared meal, actually focusing on a song that is playing, or just being aware of what you’re touching. Being thankful is closely linked to feeling alive, and there’s no better way to feel alive than to let sensations wash over you.
What are You Saying?
It’s amazing how what we say can dictate how we’re feeling. If you’re complaining about life on a daily basis, then of course things like stalled traffic and other daily inconveniences are going to annoy you - it’s confirmation bias, effectively. You think and say negative things, something negative happens, and you see the world through negative eyes. On a daily basis, do you say things like “wow, look at that blue sky!” and “say, that was a fine meal!”, or do you say “it’s a bit cold isn’t it’ and ‘urgh, now we have to do dishes”? Whatever you preach will come true. Make sure your voice is looking on the bright side of life, and things might just begin to look good!
Lie in The Grass
There are many things you can do to make yourself make thankful, but how often do you sit back, lie in the grass, and just let your mind wander to wherever it wants to go? Not every moment of your life has to be about self-improvement or trying to be happy. Take some time to do, well, nothing, and you’ll almost certainly find yourself in a happy, positive state of mind. Life can be many things, and that’s great, but you can’t beat spending some time in the sunshine (or in front of a fire if it’s winter), dreaming of all the things you’ve yet to do.
...and If All Else Fails
If you’re absolutely struggling to see the good things about a commute to work or daily grind, then remember this: today is the best time to be alive...ever. Depending on where you’re from, you probably have more opportunities to travel be who are than at any other point in the history of the world. It’s easy to get bogged down in the feeling that there isn’t much to be thankful for, but there really is - the world is safer, better fed, better watered than ever before. Things are picking up and improving all the time. So if you only have one thing to be thankful for, make it: that you’re living in a prosperous age!