The Secret to Happiness
Why does it seem some people are always happy? Do you often feel sad and look around and see others so happy and wonder, “Why can’t I be that way?”
I believe the true secret is gratitude. It really is that simple.
Why gratitude? For one, when we are in the mindset of gratitude, we are looking at what we have. When we focus on that it is hard to also focus on what we don’t have at the same time. We can feel the abundance in our lives even when we are faced with challenges.
But, sometimes it might be hard to understand why we have these challenges. And lose sight of our reasons to be grateful. It can be hard to think about gratitude when things are hard. We wonder…
Why does my friend have cancer? or
Why do small children become sick and suffer? or
Why is that family member so difficult to deal with?
There is nothing more powerful to change your perspective than to be grateful.
Life is always presenting challenges and ups and downs. We are constantly living with a challenge, getting past a challenge or starting a challenge. The character and strength that we bring to those challenges give us opportunities to grow.
I remember when my son Jack was about 8 years we were at a birthday party at one of those climbing-trampoline-kid-running-around places. He was just having a blast. I was smiling on the outside, but on the inside I was having a pity party. Jack has severe autism and is non-verbal. I watched all the typical kids running around and longed for what I thought was the ease their parents must have felt in their lives. In a few moments, Jack ran over to me laughing and I threw my arms around him. We hugged and he ran back to the trampoline. A mom sitting next to me smiled at me with glistening eyes. I smiled back and realized she wanted to say something to me. She paused, and then pointed to her autistic twin boys on another trampoline across from Jack. She said, “You’re lucky. My boys won’t even let me hug them. That’s great that you can do that. Don’t get me wrong. My boys are such good boys. They are pretty easy going. It could be worse. I am so grateful they are in our lives. I know one day they will let me hug them.” And she smiled a smile that spread into her bones and I watched her body relax and her eyes go from glistening to shining. In that moment, I realized what I had been missing in my world and what she had in her world. It was gratitude.
So, no matter how bad things are in our lives, there is always a reason to be grateful. By focusing on our purpose and blessings, we are able to put the negativity in its place. When the negativity becomes our sole focus that is what we will find, and we will become self involved and swallowed up by the problems. I was definitely consumed by my problems before that day. I am still grateful for the lesson I had learned from that mother.
How can you practice gratitude? One way is to write down the things in your life for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as a beautiful flower you saw on a walk or as profound as the love you have for your family. It can instantly put you in a new state of happiness and awareness of all your blessings. When you do this on a day that is particularly trying, it actually has the power to change the direction of your entire day. I do this when I have a hard day.
I’d love to hear how gratitude shifted a negative or bad day for you? Share with me below.