Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.Melody Beattie
How many times a day do you reflect on the past or worry about the future? Consider the aspects of your life that are lacking? Compare your life to other people’s seemingly ‘perfect’ lives and believe your own is completely inadequate and well below your expectations? If your answers to these questions are high, the chances are that you’re not grateful enough for the things you do have.
So I myself have had a very tough experiencing balancing my adoration for the things I do have in my life, at any stage, for example friends, family, a good home, and the things in life that I could consider I’m ‘lacking’ in. We as humans are creatures of habit, therefore when we’re engaged in a cycle of hopelessness, emptiness, frustration and overall negative thinking, those emotions are naturally extremely hard to shift/remove. In much the same that negative habits take time to build, positive habits are very similar. For us to create such habits as becoming more grateful, an immense of energy, drive and discipline is required. As much as advertisers and marketing agencies like to exploit consumers and promote that ‘you can get the perfect body in 14 days’ or ‘make yourself happier in 5 quick steps’, the stark reality is that anything worth having requires an incredible amount of hard work and desire. As daunting as that may seem.
I’d be completely dishonest if I said I’ve transformed from a pessimist to a optimist in a matter of years, however what I can say is that the time and effort I’ve set aside to focus on my mental health has aided my wellbeing and allowed me to progress more than I ever envisaged (despite numerous setbacks).
The number of painful experiences I’ve endured were definitely difficult to handle, however on the flipside they’ve made the person I am today (cliche I know). If I hadn’t suffered adversity, or never faced mental health problems, I believe that many good things I now have in my life wouldn’t exist. And who knows what situation I’d find myself in now if I hadn’t gone through certain challenges?
From making tough decisions, for example leaving college or cutting off friends who weren’t good for me, it opened my life up to an endless number of opportunities and great people I’d wouldn’t have explored/encountered if I didn’t have the courage and authority to make a change and put myself first. It’s so easy for us in life to settle and remain where we are, usually as a ‘safety net’, yet what I’ve learnt is sometimes we have to make difficult decisions for the good of our health. Even if they do make us scared. And uncomfortable. And doubtful.
While I’m by no means advocating people causing themselves unnecessary pain and stress for the sake of making a hard or perhaps controversial decision, it’s important to remember that what we think and what we need are not always the same thing. The problem is that our head and heart are regularly in a battle between each other, so it’s about balancing the two and recognising our limits. Take calculated risks, but try not to bulldoze ahead. If something isn’t working, maybe all you require is a slightly different approach! A 5% alteration could prove monumental.
As the old adage states: If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. Sometimes we have to be bold, think outside of the box and do something different to what we usually opt for.
Confronted by a mindset of constant anxiety, stress and defeatism, it can be easy to spend so much of our time zoning in on our biggest failures or the areas of our lives that are lacking, that we almost become unaware of all the wonderful things we have staring us straight in the face that bring huge joy. Yes you may not have an amazing car, your own fairytale marriage, your dream job or a bottomless pit of money, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have plenty of good things that you can cherish. It’s merely a matter of perspective. How we think heavily influences how we act.
If you were to picture the happiest people in the world, would I be speaking out of turn if I said that they’re not always the ones with seemingly perfect lives? We are drawn in by this idea that particular things, items or possessions directly equate to happiness, but the truth is that’s often misconceived. The happiest people aren’t usually the ones with a never-ending supply of money, massive mansions or lavish lifestyles- they are the ones who can be grateful for what they do have. However insignificant what they have seems to be, according to someone like you or me looking in from the outside.
When we get can to a place where we appreciate the good more than being consumed by the bad, surely that’s when we’ll be winning and life will feel more enjoyable. Here’s hoping we get to this point sooner rather than later- if you haven’t already that is!
Thanks for reading,