How to achieve inner happiness despite life's hurdles

Comment: Gratitude is founded in self-evaluation. It is to understand the merits and demerits in a person’s life

Gratitude – feeling thankful, not just saying the words

A word we associate with being happy, having inner peace, being a good person, living life in the moment. Being grateful can lead to emotional, psychological and physical benefits that have been proven through researched studies.

Gratitude seems simple enough as a concept. Look around, see what and who are present in your life, and simply be grateful. And you will be happy. Practising it consistently, however, may not be such an easy thing to do. A main reason is relativity, comparison and maybe just too much information on “how to be happy” that is so easily accessible in today’s technology driven world. In fact, we use “thank you” so often that maybe the term itself has lost meaning, and is said more out of habit than any true significance

In developing gratitude there is a step that is vital in ensuring that the person is in fact on the right path. And this involves realising and identifying what already exists. An endeavour that takes self-learning and continued effort.

More often, people tend to take their lives for granted, they see what they have, but fail to pay attention, instead looking for what they believe is missing. In doing this they dangerously walk a path towards losing the good in their lives, while focussing on the negative, and they try to make changes to acquire new lives. An individual will identify something they believe is missing, take action and strive to attain it. This can be a thing, a relationship, a person or even a situation they want to live in, that is perceived as better and can give new satisfaction. But this is not always a healthy journey and can become an unending race towards an unreachable goal, leading to the person constantly running after an elusive idea.

Gratitude is founded in self-evaluation, self-awareness. It is to truly understand the merits and demerits in a person’s life. These can take the form of family, love, materialistic gains, work or simply the environment. Once a person is able to know and recognise what they have in life they are able to have clarity on the elements in their life that are harmful and the ones that give them their energy. It is only then that change can be put in place that will allow them to hold onto the good and remove the bad. It is not so much gaining the new but truly seeing and appreciating the existing

A fundamental method used to develop gratitude is to keep a "gratitude journal" or even a simple list of things in life that give reason to be grateful for. This one simple practice, if followed regularly on a daily basis, can have a positive impact on attitude, emotional and psychological states. It causes the individual to be mindful of their current lives, and in time builds appreciation.

The next step is then to share this mindful recognition of the good with others. A conscious practice of saying "thank you" and placing meaning on the words in each situation. Studies have shown that the spoken word can have positive and/or negative effects on the emotional and psychological state of the speaker. Verbally expressing gratitude can help to develop the feeling of appreciation, while having the benefit of forming positive relationships with others.

The practice of gratitude is a choice, a conscious behaviour that can be developed into a way of life, bringing the person closer to that sanctum of inner happiness and peace.

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