By Dr. Peter M. Kalellis
If you want to be happy learn to be grateful over the small things in life. If you do not want to be satisfied, then it is easy: never say thank you for anything. A better way is to start each day with few words: Thank you God for another day.
Recently, a client, we will call Ted, came to see me. His issue was depressive feelings and unhappiness. In his early thirties, he seemed to have it all: a good job, a lovely wife, and a beautiful home.
“Doc, I have everything I need in my life, but I’m unhappy.”
“What is missing?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“In my work as a therapist, ‘I don’t know’ means that you do know.”
“No, I don’t,” he said.
“Ted, you may lack gratitude,” I said.
“Gratitude for what?” he asked rather annoyed. “I worked very hard to attain whatever I have. Nobody has given me anything.”
“What about the things that you take for granted?” I asked. He paused, and after a brief silence he said, “What things?”
In today’s fast-paced world, Ted, like most seem to lack the time for thankfulness. Work, family, soccer practice for their kids, medical appointments, social events, and countless other obligations are their main priorities. They seem to have no time to thank God. One wonders why we have so many unhappy people in a country that enjoys plentiful food, shelter, and many other blessings. I looked at him and said, “Ted, you are alive and healthy. Aren’t these givens worthy of some gratitude?”
Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude. It is a blessing. Reality points out that both abundance and lack of thereof exist simultaneously in our lives. It is always our conscious choice to choose better health, family, friends, work, and the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us happiness.
In a basement tavern amid smoke and lively conversation, three men were seen washing down the poisons of life. As they huddled together, a middle-aged George shouted, “No matter how hard I try, I cannot recall a bright day!” For ten years, George’s father has been a bedridden paralytic. His pal Mike’s wife is dying slowly of cancer. And the third Matt shared his story of a son unjustly imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.
They kept asking, “Who is to blame for this fate? God? Or the beer and wine that we’ve been consuming nearly every night?” So here they were seemingly doomed and undecided and waiting for a miracle.
Obviously, these three characters did not want to make some new choices and pursue healthier changes in their life. Self-pity and lack of motivation shucked their energy, leaving them in a state of despair. They were anguished by their condition and waiting for something or somebody to come along and change their circumstances so that their lives, as they imagine them, might begin. What they really needed was a super-dose of gratitude for what they already had in their life.
If you want to be happy, start your day by being grateful for the little thing in life. Make it a daily habit--you’ll be happy you did.