Over the years I’ve slowly learned what gratitude really means. It is the only possible way to true happiness and a fulfilled life. No matter what your current situation is, you are never fully satisfied with it, unless you are not aware of the things you are blessed with. People often search for happiness in wrong places and think they are going to be happy “as soon as” they accomplish certain things in their lives, but they are just trapped in an endless circle of discontent because they never reach the state of calmness. For a long time, I was also one of them.
I though I am going to be happy as soon as I finish my college, as soon as I get a job, as soon as I fall in love, as soon as I move to another city… The truth is, as soon as I had accomplished things that should brought me to the “finish line”, I was disappointed every time, because I realized I was still in the same place as before, nothing has changed. I was still the same person. Then, I would search for a new goal and I told myself again: “This is what’s been missing! I am sure this is the thing that will bring me happiness”. The good thing was, in the meanwhile, I was really accomplishing big things in my life and I was gaining new experiences, but nothing could make me really happy. I was mostly sleepwalking through my life and I never really though about how blessed and lucky I was. I was constantly thinking about things I don’t have and the things I still want, but never about the things I have now, in this moment. I’ve lost so many years in searching for happiness, without realizing that it was here all the time. Happiness is not the “finish line”, not the goal, not the result of an action. It is a decision, a state of mind. And the key to happiness is the gratitude.
Now, when I catch myself thinking in the negative way, thinking about things I don’t have, about issues that I need to resolve in order to be “better” and “happier”, I instantly wake up from that stupid flow of thoughts and bring the present moment to consciousness. I concentrate immediately on the positive sides of my life, on the things I have already achieved, of the things I am grateful for. There are millions of people who experienced the same thing all over the world and they are the living proofs that this way of thinking not only changes the perspective on life, but also attracts new positive things to your life that you can be grateful for.
I used to think that positive thinking and raising awareness of the present moment and its blessings were just funny and ridiculous ways of trying to convince yourself that you are fine no matter what and that this method only brings you to the false optimism and avoiding reality, escaping the truth, escaping the problems. It was so weird to me at the beginning because I was very cynical and bitter towards any kind of self-help stuff, meditation, yoga, affirmations… I used to think: “How could I be positive when everything in my life seems wrong? Should I say thanks to the Sun that raises in the morning and meditate, so that I feel better? Bullshit! I made so many wrong choices in my life, I don’t know what I want anymore, nothing I do makes me happy, I am not who I want to be, life is hard and unfair and I need to accept that fact.”
I saw black in every situation even though I am generally considered to be a cheerful person. In my four walls, things took off control, I was f***ed up all the way, going mad and anxious, dealing with the self-hatred and tears, almost every day. Depression ruled my world and I was afraid to talk about it, I was even afraid to face myself with that truth.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a change, so I started with small things. I started to change my thoughts no matter how hard it was. I started to watch motivational videos, “life-changing” movies, listened to positive music…I tried everything! Some days were better, some were worse, but I decided I am never going to quit trying. It took me years to reach the state of mind where I am today and I still have a long way to go, but it doesn’t matter anymore, because I enjoy the process now. I am not just waiting for the “finish line”, I am not just waiting for my happiness. I decided I am going to live my happiness now. No matter what, I am going to be happy! I am constantly reminding myself of the present moment and all the things I have and the thought of losing them makes me even more grateful, not frightened. When I think of myself 5 or 10 years ago, I cannot believe that I was that person, I feel sorry for her and the time she waisted on being so unhappy.
If you feel those things and you know what I mean, I suggest you start changing your thoughts if you still haven’t. Every day, make a list of everything you are grateful for. It is not a waste of time, it is your chance, your survival, the core of your happy being. This is everything and it will change your life without a doubt. If you start writing lists of the things you are grateful for, soon you will write a book, I promise you. Good things will never stop coming. It doesn’t have to be a real list on a piece of paper, it can also be a thanksgiving meditation, or a walk, or a prayer. Do the lists in your head if you are not willing to write. It is just important that you become aware of your blessings. In every situation you can find a reason to be unhappy and, in the same way, you can always find something good. If you think about the fact that we all have a limited time on this world, how stupid is it really to think negatively?! Why not take the best out of every possible experience and start with the gratitude right now?
The change starts when you become aware of the present moment. Go back to that moment every time you realize you forgot about it. Bringing the present moment to your consciousness is the first step for learning how to be grateful. Be exited for a new day, because no matter how low your start looks, you will be better and happier with every new day. Gratitude is a practice, it can be trained and everybody can do it. There are always things to be grateful for. ALWAYS…
If you think there is nothing to be grateful for right now, think about your life, your parents, your dog, your kids, your body, your mind, think about love, think about your career… Do you have your arms and legs? Do you have a brain to think and read, and a body to feel? Think about your friends, think about your home….Think even about your bad experiences that taught you new lessons, think about all the problems you solved so far, think about your challenges, think about your decisions…Is there really nothing to be grateful for?
Trust me, you could never stop writing the gratitude lists because there are a million things to be grateful for every day. And there will be more, without a doubt, because with positive thoughts come positive things. This is not a magic trick, this is the truth of life and the secret of happiness. Our lives are full of gifts and every morning should be the Christmas morning. Open your gifts and embrace them, love them, pray to them, give thanks to them.
Be happy and don’t worry. Everything will be alright 🙂