When reading about happiness, success, and motivation, we see a lot of mention about gratitude. “Being grateful is the first step to being happy”. “Be grateful for the small things you have”. “Happiness is about being grateful”.
But what does it really mean to be grateful?
Feeling or showing an appreciation for something done or received.
According to the official definition, it is a sign of appreciation. Ok, we get that, but this still doesn’t explain what gratefulness is. What does it mean to feel or show appreciation? What do you show your appreciation for? Or how do you even show appreciation?
For me, the answer is the sense of fulfilment you feel when something has made you happy. The feeling of elation you get when you really think about the luxuries in your life.
Try it now – stop what you are doing, and think…
Stop and think about what it means to have a solid roof over your head. Stop and think about how you are able to charge your multiple gadgets in your home at any time you want. Stop and think about the high speed Internet you use to talk to family on the other side of the planet.
Don’t just say you are grateful, you have to feel it. People often say they are grateful for what they have, but their actions show a completely different side to what they ‘said’. They say they are grateful for their house, yet don’t maintain it. They say they are grateful for their electricity, yet excessively waste it.
Others around the world are killing just to eat. They are guarding covered areas in the streets just to get that bit of cover from rain or snow. Some people can’t even afford one mobile phone, let alone multiple phones for their household.
How often do you really think of the luxuries you have? Your smartphone, the biscuits in your pantry, or even the hot water in your shower. Healthy children running and screaming around the house (no matter how irritating they may be).
Being healthy is something I am grateful for every day. I can stand, walk, and pee without worry. I have no disabilities or terminal disease, and can really do what I want.
As my left hand holds my smartphone, and my right works the TV remote, I stop and think of all these things I have. My health, my family’s health, the TV, the Internet, my big safe home. I realise how truly lucky I am to have all of this.
A feeling of wholeness begins to grow in my chest. The more I imagine my life without these luxuries, the more the wholeness fills my chest. Until, ultimately, it bursts out of my face with a smile.
That, to me, is being truly grateful.
Taking enough time to stop, think, and imagine not having whatever it is you are thinking about. Taking enough time to ponder your thoughts until you start to truly feel the wholeness inside you. Taking enough time to let yourself smile with happiness – and gratefulness.
Have you had any sense of true gratitude? How do you know when you are feeling truly grateful?
[Featured image: Charlie Foster]