Why You Should be Grateful
Gratitude - this is the magical attitude that will open up untold possibilities to your personal development and well being. Your perception influences your thoughts which in turn create your feelings and thus give meaning to the events in your life. Gratitude is the key thought which can help you set your mind on the right path to a better inner life and self improvement. Let’s examine this single quality of gratitude, because there’s a real treasure to be uncovered here.
many problems are a matter of perception
Why should you be grateful? Your job might suck, you might have quarrelled with your partner, you might be annoyed with your colleagues, you might not be progressing in things the way you want, you might not be pretty enough, you might not be confident enough, you might not be intelligent enough, you might not be tall enough, you might not... bla bla bla... Do you see what’s going on here?
If you really want to find a problem with something, you’ll always be able to find any problem. Life by its nature is never perfect. To be perfect means to be infinite, but everything that you experience is finite and limited, and therefore it is imperfect. You are imperfect by nature too. That’s why you will have plenty of options to complain about if you really want to complain. But this will really miss the point of how you should spend your time if you want to be a good, happy person with integrity.
The right way of living is to focus on constructive stuff, on being good to other people and yourself. You won’t achieve that by always dwelling on the negative, imperfect stuff in society and life. You need to acknowledge the imperfections - yes, but you also need to acknowledge what is already given and good. That’s where the value of gratitude comes into play.
Is the Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?
Have you ever heard about the expression: is the glass half empty or half full? It is a common expression, a proverbial phrase to indicate that when facing a situation, two people can have two totally different and opposing views. One person might consider the situation optimistic, and say the glass is half full. Another person might consider the situation pessimistic and say the glass is half empty. Which is it?
The answer is: objectively speaking, they are both kind of right, because indeed the water reaches only halfway within the glass. Both persons are faced with the same fact. However, both of them also interpret the same fact in two different ways. So what happens here is that although the fact is the same for both, there are two different perceptions of the same fact - crazy, right?
Perception is interpretation
This matter becomes clear if we recognise that knowing facts is simply not enough. Our mind also wants to interpret the facts. What does that mean to interpret something? To interpret something means to give it a meaning. When faced with facts, our mind not only acknowledges the fact, but also wants to know what it means. The mind wants to make a moral, or ethical judgement upon the fact and those judgements will be based upon your values, ideals, and also your goals and personal experience from the past.
As you see, we not only perceive facts, we also want to give facts a meaning, a meaning that is often quite personal because we make judgements based on our personal values and world-views. Expressed in another way: acknowledging a fact means recognising an objective physical event, but giving that fact a meaning means adding to that fact a bit of your own consciousness that imbues the fact with additional thoughts about your own inner life. That’s what it means to interpret something. That's what constitutes personal perception.
gratitude enriches your inner life
To return to our original question: what does that all have to do with gratitude? You see, gratitude is exactly that quality which will positively influence your perception the way you should want to view the situations around you. You can either think the glass is half empty, meaning you see the world pessimistically and think everything is against you... or you can think the glass is half full, meaning you see the world optimistically and think you’re on the right track and everything will be fine at the end. Gratitude is that inner filter, one of many, that helps you see the glass as half full, to be thankful for what you already have, and just ignore what you don’t have. Gratitude lets us see the abundance in an imperfect world.
When you look at your thoughts with your inner sight and consciously decide to think thoughts of gratitude, you will notice how this changes slowly, but definitely your inner mental state. If you cultivate the thoughts of gratitude, a feeling of gratitude and kindness will follow. With this positive inner filter you’ll start noticing the little things in life that are beautiful. Birds singing, children playing, sun shining, music playing... With a feeling of gratitude you suddenly have a thousand little reasons to be happy about, although nothing has changed in your outside world.
However, your inner life, your consciousness, has changed and you started to interpret the world with positive, constructive, elevating thoughts and feelings. Now you find yourself surrounded by half-full glasses everywhere.
gratitude is not denial of reality
One last thing needs to be mentioned here: I’m not talking here about denying reality. I’m not talking here about denying the pain and injustices of life. In many obvious cases of crime the only way through life situations is by facing the suffering and discomfort and by bringing the wrongdoers to justice. However, all I claim is that no matter what you experience in your mundane daily life, there’s always a way to see the best aspects of your situation. Such an attitude will motivate you to take concrete steps to improve the imperfections in your personal life.
It’s better to experience discomfort and still be grateful for the present moment, rather than to experience discomfort and complain and curse all the time. Besides, worrying and whining is a huge waste of mental energy. On the other hand, changing your perception - the way you give meaning to events, will improve your inner experience and form your character.
So, join me in raising a half-full glass in a toast to bettering our perceptions. Let’s be grateful for what we have. I gratefully thank you for reading this article. Na-mas-te!