Happiness is pretty subjective, so take a moment to think about it.
Happiness and gratitude have a lot to do with each other. It is not the first time I have mentioned this, and it definitely will not be the last. (You can check out my thoughts on thankfulness from Thanksgiving 2 years ago here: Are You Thankful?) When we give thanks, acknowledge what has been done or given to us, our attitude and outlook are changed. When we search for a happy result out of selfishness, we tend to focus only on the outcome, getting what we wanted. Feeling self-satisfied, the recipient, and how this will make us feel a certain way. The result usually is a continued search for something else to fill the emptiness.
This is all purely anecdotal, of course, but there is plenty of material out there that you can look to for your own research. I have a couple of shelves of books that deal with how we search for the outcome, only to come up empty handed. For a solid listen on the topic of happiness, especially as it relates to the concept of ‘contempt’, have a listen to this interview with Arthur Brooks: Freakonomics Radio interview with Arthur Brooks.
Happiness without gratitude rarely works. It stresses you out. Makes you forget what is most important. And it can feel like death by a thousand tiny cuts as you try to resolve a way to simply make you happy.
Happiness is circumstantial, greatly impacted by (you guessed it) what happens. Circumstances by themselves cannot dictate who you are and what you are all about. In fact, it is often through the most difficult circumstances that we develop our gratitude muscles. There is a greater depth to our thanks when we honestly look at our surroundings, look inward at how we are feeling, and seek out for what we can say thank you.
Gratitude goes so much deeper. Taking time to be thankful may not make everyday a happy one, but it will change your outlook. Contentment, appreciation, humility, camaraderie, joy… A change of heart for the humanity that is part of your daily journey. Unhappiness can change in how it impacts you as an outcome, instead of seeking an escape from the possibility that you could feel so.
- Take note of your gratitude.
- Make a practice of seeking thankfulness.
- Give it to others. Help them find it if it is a struggle.
- Happiness may come, but it just might look a little different than it did before.