In the first part I have written how a limited perception can make us depressed and how the practice of gratitude can be of great help. In the second part I would like to write how true gratitude affects our happiness.

Many people don’t really understand what true gratitude is about. Gratitude is mainly in their heads and not in their hearts. Some think that gratitude is to say “thank you” when they receive something positive. Others think that gratefulness is seeing you have more than others and be appreciative towards that. And some don’t find anything major missing in their lives but still cannot feel grateful towards what they have.

First, being taught to be nice to others has nothing to do with gratitude. Expressing thankfulness but feeling nothing when you receive something is just learned behavior. Second, comparing yourself to others is also not true gratitude. It may be helpful to notice we have more than others especially when we are struggling ourselves. But gratitude is a feeling possible to cultivate by any of us at any time, not just when we are comparing ourselves to someone with lesser circumstances.

Some people think they should get more things or more things should happen to them to be able to feel grateful. There are certainly things in our lives now that we once only wished we had. And if you can’t feel grateful for those, why do you think you will enjoy more when you get more? It doesn’t make any sense. It makes much more sense to stop planning for more until you enjoy what you have now.

True gratitude is the appreciation for one’s life. Not just stuff that a person has, not just people he or she is surrounded with or activities that one is doing but also who a person is. Gratitude is so important because it is really the prerequisite for happiness. When one understands that, happiness becomes a different point of view – not more stuff and experiences but appreciation for what one already is and has.

Deep gratitude is not just counting what one should be grateful for once in a while, but feeling one already has so much in every moment of his or her life. When we think what we can be grateful for, our mind usually seeks only the “big things”, but our day to day life consists mostly of the small stuff. So if we only recognise the big things to be grateful for, then we will be grateful and consequently happy very rarely. Big things happen now and then and if they would be happening all the time then they wouldn’t be called “big” anymore.

Cultivating gratitude changes our perception in peculiar ways. The more we recognise special things in ordinary moments the less we crave so called “special moments”. Because now a lot of moments have suddenly become special. The best way to do that is with daily gratitude journaling. It is helpful not only for recognising moments to be grateful for but also focusing on them more. Gratefulness is truly a doorway to living a happy life. And if you’re still not convinced just look at some of the ungrateful people. You won’t find more miserable, bitter and joyless individuals anywhere else.

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