This is a quick one on the importance of practising gratitude.
I’m not going to deny the fact that I’m a miserable bastard. I’m prone to feeling sorry for myself and believing life keeps throwing shit cards at me; every time I overcome one hurdle I’m already tripping over another. I know there are a lot of people who think like this. Those of us who have, unfortunately, been a little on the rapidly deteriorating side of mental health are very familiar with it. It’s helplessness, it’s pessimism (that we like to call realism because, let’s face it, we live in a shit world and things are more than likely going to go wrong more often than not – that’s just the way life is), it’s feeling oh-so tired of all the bullshit because when will it end? When will I get my walk in the park, when will I get my rainbows and butterflies? When will life slow down for me, when will I finally catch a break?
It feels like a storm and it’s never ending; sometimes I would have a fleeting burst of happiness and joy, and I’d clasp my hands around it in a desperate attempt to hold it close to me before it disappears forever, but it always flies away just as fast as it came. So I’ve learnt to not hold on; I let it come and go as it pleases. I don’t force it to remain, because the little happiness I do get I want to remain genuine, and I hope that it chooses to stay longer and longer. If I’m happy, I feel it. If I’m sad, I feel it. I don’t pretend it’s something else.
In amongst all the bullshit, though, there are ways to find something closer to happiness. Just like you can think your way into a bad mood, you can also think your way into a semi-good mood. One of the most effective ways of doing this is through gratitude. As a species, we are never happy with what we have and we’re always looking for more; consequently, we’re always dissatisfied. But stopping to really absorb the good that you do have does wonders.
No matter how low you feel, there are always things to be grateful for. I want to make it clear, however, I am never someone to say ‘you should be grateful because somebody else always has it worse.’ I don’t believe that, because all pain is subjective. When I talk about gratitude, about your own life, about finding things to be happy about, it is never ever in comparison to anybody else. Your life and your hardships have nothing to do with anybody else; there is no such thing as ‘be happy; someone else’s life is more shit than yours.’ Not only is that insulting to the other person, it does nothing to help you. Another person’s suffering does not negate your own. Not only do you still feel horrible, you now also feel guilty for feeling horrible. Yes, there are people starving to death, but that doesn’t make your pain any less valid, no matter what it’s about.
I digress. Let’s think of gratitude as a source of light in your life.