By Diana Sanchez, Staff Writer
Today, more so than ever, happiness is actively portrayed as a direct result of having more. The more you have and the nicer your things are, the happier you will be - well, that’s what we are told, anyway. This message is repeatedly reinforced through advertising by companies who want us to buy their products. Take into account the fact that we are constantly exposed to advertising no matter where we look, and this need to have more becomes tougher to get away from.
While having more things and more wealth might make life more comfortable in some respects, it is not the key to happiness. So then what is?
The Key to Happiness
The key to happiness isn’t found in buying more and more things. That just leads to an empty heart and a home full of clutter. On the contrary, being happy is achieved by learning to appreciate what we do have. This is logical when you consider that dwelling on what we don’t have doesn’t help anyone feel good - even if they already have a lot.
Regardless of whatever situation you might be in, there are always so many things to be grateful for. Think about the small moments that make you smile, like a beautiful sunset, or a friend’s touch. Consider the big things, like your health, your spouse, or your child. It doesn’t have to be true that you only know what you have until it’s gone. When you take the time to appreciate the million things that you’re grateful for, you’ll know exactly what you have, and it will make you smile. And that, my friend - that is real happiness.
Learning to Feel Grateful
I have a good friend who years ago was going through a really difficult period in her life (as happens to all of us at some point or another). She was extremely unhappy, and near tears almost every time I saw her. Her marriage was falling apart, her relationship with her husband was turning into a very toxic environment, they were barely making ends meet, her kids were growing up and were proving challenging to discipline, and to top it all off, she’d gained a lot of weight, her clothes didn’t fit, and she felt terrible about herself. I knew that she had been struggling but it wasn’t until I met up with her for coffee one day that I’d realized how much.
We were talking and she was unloading her feelings on me (which was the point of the meetup - she needed to vent) when I suggested something that had helped me through a difficult part of my life. I told her she should try writing down what she felt grateful for, to help her shift her focus from what was making her miserable to the good things in her life. I knew her mornings were busy so I suggested she find a journal and aim to write down 3 things daily, but, I continued, some days you’ll find yourself writing much more than three.
She looked at me for a while, her eyes looking so empty and dark. Finally, she said, “How on earth am I going to think of that many things, Diana?”
My heart broke. I saw then what I hadn’t seen before: she was in such a bad place mentally that her positivity was all tapped out. She had none left. No wonder she has struggling so much. I got up and gave her a big hug and asked her to promise me to try - even if she was just starting out by writing one thing a day.
Once she got started she found that it actually wasn’t hard to find several things to feel grateful for - she had just been dwelling on what she didn’t have for so long she’d forgotten how to count the wonderful things she did have. (If you’re looking for other ways to improve your mental health, check out this article.)
Ladies, life will give us lemons - we know that. No one gets through life untouched by difficult moments. But when the world is giving you lemons, don’t forget that you always have you. You are the source of your happiness and well-being. Only you.
Keep going, keep moving, even if you feel like you’re crawling and you’re not headed anywhere. Hold on to the hope that better days will come - because they always do.
And don’t forget to count your blessings.*If you want to learn more about journaling to improve your mental health check out our blog!