In a well-lit room, I type along on my laptop to the rhythmic nuances of this week’s weather forecast. I drink perfunctorily from a glass of room-temperature water, glance at my dog (who is gleefully scooting around besides my feet) and smile. I have so much to be grateful for.
Today, in a world filled with suffering and turmoil, unreserved happiness seems almost inconsiderate. Regardless, we are all entitled to a shot at happiness, and the yearning for such is something we all have in common.
The Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner, and classroom conversations have begun to circulate, discussing the appropriate themes of “thankfulness” and “gratitude.”
Though however relevant, I find it absurd that such an important facet of life only receives recognition in the short span of time preceding a holiday. Also, this holiday has morphed to become increasingly commercialized and – dare I say – unauthentic.
It is important to know that, first of all, true gratitude is almost spontaneous.
And by that, I don’t mean you are supposed to be sporadically overcome with an overwhelming sense of appreciation without reason. I mean that gratitude is not something to be deliberately brought upon in classrooms or dinnertime conversations for the sole reason of appealing to holiday spirits.
Many would agree that in order to be grateful, one must first be content with their life and present circumstances.Yet, we are in a perpetual state of grappling and needing and desiring that ultimately subject us to the antithesis of
happiness – suffering. Think about it: we all know that one person who we believe has everything it takes to be happy, and yet they are still discontent.
And it just so happens that in our day of modern conveniences and technologies, there is a tool or gadget for just about everything… except happiness. No single person achieves happiness through launching an app or swiping a card. Which is why instead of waiting endlessly for happiness in order to find gratitude, one must use gratitude as a tool to become happy.
Furthermore, don’t think of yourself as a synthetic humanoid fueled by materialistic possessions. As I mentioned before, gratitude comes from a state of mind, and although you can make a conscious effort to become more appreciative for what you receive from others, this is not enough to grant you true happiness.
Try finding gratitude in the entirety of life, and try seeing each present moment as a gift.
That being said, you might think that this notion of “grateful living” is just easy to say and hard to do. In order to achieve this, I personally first started noticing the smaller, more minute things that make me happy. I have a newfound appreciation for the feeling of putting on new socks, free bagel samples at Costco, Buffy on Netflix, or any of these details that could be easily overlooked.
And on a more universal scale, I believe that being consciously aware of important people in our lives is essential to finding happiness.
More of us should begin to appreciate the people we love enough to watch TV with and pour coffee for on a Monday morning.
In the end, although we don’t collectively exist in a virtuous, harmonious utopia. Although sometimes the world hurts without reason. Although we may not be flawless or completely fulfilled. Happiness is still possible, as long as we choose gratitude.