Many of us struggle with our happiness and mood levels. What’s worse is that so many people have simply accepted unhappiness, sadness and a real lack of contentment and satisfaction as simply being the norm. And that’s terrifying.

Regardless of your religious leanings, we’re all given, on average, 75 years on this earth. You cannot afford to waste that brief time feeling anything less than happy.

Easier said than done though, right? What is happiness after all? I summarise happiness as the combined feelings of being content, in control of oneself and impassioned. Contentment comes from the other two, with control preventing self-destructive behaviours, and keeping you on the right path, and passion telling you what to pursue and work for. Combine those three, and you’ve got our idea of happiness.

While you could definitely argue that instant gratification should accommodate greater and greater happiness, it actually works against us.

Instant gratifications go against lasting happiness Share on X

Instant gratification is, for the most part, limiting. Without pushing yourself to truly strive for something, you cannot feel real success and satisfaction with yourself. Instant gratification is the enemy.

But then that steers us to the other side – striving too hard, working too hard, and wearing out your body and mind capacity. Once motivation and self-belief are gone, you’ve basically failed. You need to tread a narrow path of hard work, self-control, and relaxation and enjoyment. It all comes down to balance. Without balance, you can’t hope to end up fulfilled and happy.

Once motivation and self-belief are gone, you’ve basically failed Share on X

Walking that narrow path is hard, though. There are a million distractions, with tons of them leading down self-destructive routes. I’m talking binge eating, binge drinking, and binge watching Netflix. All fun, all bad for you. All, ultimately, addictive. That’s why you need a balancing pole to keep you on that tight rope, and for me, and many others, that pole is gratitude.

What is Gratitude?

Obvious question right? Wrong! So many people were taught to say ‘thank you’ as a child, without any real concept of what true gratitude is. Gratitude is perspective. Gratitude is knowing that despite the fact you don’t deserve good health any more than someone you see in a hospital, you don’t deserve to be born into a country with a solid, peaceful infrastructure, you have been. You have, through the absolute luck of the draw, been given certain attributes, possessions, and nourishments that you had no reason to expect. Understanding that is gratitude.

We were taught to say ‘thank you’ as children, without any real concept of what true gratitude is.

It’s the honest and sincere appreciation that things could always be much worse. Always. Give me the darkest, most stressful situation, and I could hypothetically make it worse.

Gratitude is the honest and sincere appreciation that things could always be much worse Share on X

Gratitude isn’t a selfish thing either. Being grateful to people and things you love is important too.
In short, gratitude is the opposite of being spoilt. You force yourself to stop expecting things from the world, and you take notice when you receive them. People who groundlessly expect things from the world are generally hugely uncharismatic, and just a little bit dislikeable. If you think you might be spoilt, just realising it puts you a million miles ahead of those who mindlessly carry on expecting things. Gratitude is the key.

Importance of Gratitude

Gratitude is essentially crucial to becoming a healthy well-rounded person with a solid friendship base. It’s crucial in romantic relationships too. No one is going to stay with someone who doesn’t appreciate them or see what they do for them.

Rejecting gratitude in your life is a sure fire way to simply give yourself a ton more hassle and issues than you really need.

The Problem with Not Being Grateful

People will dislike you. Maybe not immediately, maybe not even everyone, but people will see you take them for granted, and it will put them right off you. Being ungrateful and spoilt is among the ugliest human traits and is totally uncharismatic. If you want to be an attractive person, inside and out, you need to be grateful. Why do you think the term ‘ingrate’ is an insult?

You will become more demotivated easily too. Whatever we’re doing, be it exercise, a work project, or studying, we all start out hot, determined and quick out of the gate. But if we don’t see progress, or see too little progress, we can quickly lose interest, and move on. Your expectations, once again, will cause you problems.

Benefits of Being More Grateful

More motivation and drive. If you understand your body and mind, and you stop expecting so much from both yourself and the world and become grateful for what you receive, you can maintain drive and motivation.

Being grateful to yourself, and to what you can do is important, because without that essential self-respect, and self-love, you can’t hope to whip yourself into your true potential.
Better relationships are also to be expected. If you can truly and sincerely notice and show gratitude to friends, family and partners, they will notice and they will feel more appreciated. This kicks off a beautiful feedback loop, where one of you does something nice, the other notices and reciprocates, and your love for one another bounces back and forth, and develops.

continue to part 2