“It is not happy people who are thankful /
It is thankful people who are happy.”
~ Anonymous quote
On the eve of Thanksgiving, a friend posted this quote to Facebook. Normally, I gloss over the bite-sized quotes and stories shared on this social media time zapper. They usually inspire an eye roll, a giggle, a gasp or a smile — then I move on. But this quote seized me.
Its power lies in the simplicity of its message: Gratitude leads to happiness. Focus on the “I am so lucky for A, B and C” instead of the “I wish I had X, Y and Z.” It’s something we inherently know is the “right” formula for living life. Unfortunately, it’s not put into action enough.
Most of us, me included, spend time craving, seeking, studying and longing for happiness. The way “happiness” is marketed, you’d think it is some elusive and challenging thing to obtain, like the Holy Grail of human emotions. Just consider the abundance of self help books and anti-depressant drugs available! But you don’t need books or drugs. You don’t even need yoga.
Just be grateful for what’s in (or not in) your life right now — and positivity should flow from that mental shift in perspective.
My cynical friends will, of course, challenge me on this. And you know what? I am grateful for that, too. I’d challenge them right back: Name five things that you’re grateful for — without being a smart ass, you smart ass — and tell me that it doesn’t lift your spirit just a smidge. Deep down, I think that challenge would trigger an inner smile, even as the cynical exterior persists.
When I was going through a sour grapes episode in my life recently, I knew I needed an attitude change. So I started a “positivity journal.” (I thought the concept was hokey, but I was determined to see if this simple exercise kept me from taking a deep dive into cynical waters.) Each morning when I woke up, I wrote down one thing for which I was grateful. Each night before I feel asleep, I wrote down one thing for which I was grateful.
The bouquet of “gratitude flowers” gradually amassed was pretty incredible. The exercise helped tether me to the positive aspects of life, as I always had something to write. Sometimes I had to choose from a bunch of things. Why should I be upset, angry or frustrated when I had so many things for which I was grateful? I became less “sour grapes” and more “succulent grapes.”
I stopped dedicating time to this journal a while back. Not sure why. Guess I didn’t feel like I “needed” it anymore. I got over my funk, and tucked it away. But when I get back home from this holiday weekend, I will dig it back out — and pick up where I left off.
Every day can be Thanksgiving.