Happiness can be found in many ways in life. Some people think sexy cars, beautiful homes, expensive clothes, and traveling first class are the way to achieve happiness.
Of course, all these luxuries may bring temporary joy and make life easier and seem more exciting. But stable, sustainable, consistent happiness can only come when gratitude and awareness of our blessings are there. That’s why happiness is not about what we have and what we hope to have one day. We need to remember that what we have already is enough. Our health, families, love, a job, a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clean water to drink are incredible blessings.
Long ago, someone told me something that I try to remember when I get in a funk and forget my blessings: “Someone out there in this world would take your worst day.”
I went to Africa, specifically Kenya, many years ago, and the happiness and true joy that I witnessed on the children’s faces in Masai Village were unforgettable! They were all living in dung-plastered huts, no shoes in sight, dancing in the dust, and smiling from ear to ear. They didn’t have much, but they had music, community, love, family, friends, and a sense of gratitude for what they did have instead of focusing on what they didn’t.
This is the problem we face today. Gratitude is not a popular trend in our capitalist society. If we’re grateful for what we have, then we can’t be constantly sold products and services that cater to our insecurities and our desire to outdo the Joneses. Everywhere we look, we are bombarded by the idea that we need to be richer, thinner, smarter, funnier, more charming, and, of course, better looking. If we liked ourselves just the way we are, the advertising industry would tank—and they know it. So today, focus on all the blessings and not all the “THINGS.”
Just for today, try to find one thing to be grateful for. You may be upset, frustrated, or in pain, but try to find out which part of that misery comes from a limited, faulty perspective. A wise person once remarked that there are two types of fears: that of not getting what you want and that of losing what you already have. Gratitude is the solution to both. It’s very difficult to attract more good into your life if you are busy meditating on what you don’t yet have. If you are angry and bitter now, you will only be more angry and bitter when you have more—it will never be enough to fill that empty hole inside.
Instead, we have to start with where we are today. Do you have a roof over your head? Food to eat? Clothing? Someone to talk to? A special animal companion? Those are all treasures to cherish. One day, all your dreams may come true, but as long as you are in the habit of finding the flaws in everything and everyone, you won’t be present to receive such miracles. You will be busy obsessing over the next conquest or acquisition, or bemoaning the most recent defeat or loss. So, just for today, set an intention for the future, enjoy what you do have, and make an effort to brighten someone else’s day.
Yes, it’s true: there will always be people who are more attractive than us, more accomplished, and more intelligent. There will also always be folks that are less so. Learning to appreciate the good in everyone and seeing ourselves as connected to others helps us to be content with our place in the world, knowing that we are neither more nor less valuable than anyone else. When one person goes to the moon, we all rejoice. “Look at what our species can do!” We can enjoy each person we meet as a reflection of the infinite variations of humanity, knowing that, just as an orchestra would be incomplete without the tuba, the flute, or the violin, so would humankind be less rich if any one of us was missing. Instead of striving to be perfect, we should just marvel at our good fortune to be here at all.
You can learn more about how to cultivate a practice of gratitude and learn new tools for achieving true happiness at www.rewiredprograms.com.
Erica Spiegelman is a wellness specialist, recovery counselor, and author of the new book The Rewired Life (2018) as well as Rewired: A Bold New Approach to Addiction & Recovery(2015), the Rewired Workbook (2017), the Rewired Coloring Book (2017), all published by Hatherleigh Press. Erica holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of Arizona and is a California State Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor (CADAC)-II from UCLA. For more information, visit Erica’s website or follow @Erica Spiegelman on Instagram.