The pursuit of a happy life is a general desire of people from every place and status in life. The opportunity to find happiness was considered so fundamental that the founding fathers of the United States enshrined it in the Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evidence, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The desire to find a happy life is put on the same plane of importance as life itself and the freedom to make personal decisions. Striving for happiness is foundational to each individual, but attaining such a state is often very difficult to achieve. One method by which happiness can be achieved is through practicing gratitude. What is gratitude and in what ways can have a grateful approach to life bring about a happy life?
The concept of gratitude is defined as being thankful. It is a state of readiness by which a person shows appreciation for a kindness given and is willing to find a way in which to return such kindness to those from whom it was received. Being grateful begins by having a humble attitude that does not assume that the good things that others do are deserved or a necessity, but are an expression of kindness by others. It requires that the individual put aside a prideful attitude and recognize the good in others and how that good is expressed in personal benefits. Such an attitude leads to a willingness to look for opportunities to be kind to those that have shown kindness in the past.
Being grateful requires humility
A prideful person focuses inward and assumes that those around are present merely to serve his or her own needs. An assumption of superiority will never lead to gratitude because those things that others do for the individual will never be understood as kind but merely as what is necessary or expected. When choosing the way of the humble, a person begins to look around at others, considers their situation, and appreciates when they choose to act on behalf of others.
Taking the time to consider others places the individual within their own situation and gains a proper understanding of the sacrifice required to do a good deed on behalf of another. The more that at individual gains appreciation of the condition of another and what was required to act on one’s own behalf, the more gratitude will rise in one’s own heart and that gratitude produces the kind of peace that will lead to happiness.
Ingratitude destroys the calm disposition
Ingratitude destroys the calm disposition that enables happiness to take root in a person’s heart. When individual demands from others or expects certain actions from others, that person will grow frustrated when such actions are not taken. Even if they are done, those actions are only seen as what is expected and there is no satisfaction in actions that are mere as expected. True happiness is an extension of receiving more than what is merely required, but something that excites or intrigues. An action done on one’s behalf from mere kindness without the requirement of an immediate response is one that fills a person’s heart with the spirit of the action taken and thus leads to a state of contentment and rest that can be filled with a sense of joy and happiness. Happiness takes root only where the ground has been prepared for it and this comes about only as a person finds a sense of rest in his or her place without those unnecessary expectations that can never be met by others.
Peace and contentment
Peace and contentment are rare qualities and few people find them in the degree necessary to produce a state of happiness. Accepting one’s position and life and being able to live purposefully and fully within it, while at the same time striving to make it better as opportunity allows, requires discipline and purpose that is often lacking in most people. Being able to avoid demands on others that are beyond their ability to make good is necessary in order to live in a state of rest and calm that will make for a happy life. An inability to find happiness is often connected with requiring from others what they are unable to supply. Each person has limitations and addictions that prevent them from acting in a way that is best or in a manner that others may see is best. Individuals have blind spots with regard to their own behavior and the behavior of others. True calm and peace only come from accepting people as they are and helping them to be better while not demanding from them more than they have to offer.
Much of the circumstances that lead to happiness are outside the control of the individual but are dependent on the actions of others and the series of events that occur around an individual. In accepting these realities, a person is able to strive within them to accomplish a state of happiness without struggling against the limitations that are very difficult, if not impossible, to change. Happiness must be understood as a pursuit rather than merely a fixed goal. The events and conditions which cause a person to be happy at one stage of life will often change as a person matures. Such changes are part of the process of finding happiness and thus the state of being happy is an ongoing process that may never reach a fixed place. In accepting this process, a person enables happiness to occur through being grateful for the actions of others that have produced a state of happiness. As a result, the state of being grateful will thus produce happiness by which a person is able to live well.
Gratitude and happiness are closely connected
A humble disposition that identifies the state of others and appreciates their kind acts will lead to a state of peace and calm through which happiness can be produced. While happiness will change through life, being grateful for others is a consistent approach that will make the events and circumstances around a person a place where happiness can occur. In choosing to be grateful, an individual puts aside unnecessary demands on others and puts in place the state of being that produces a good life marked by happiness and peace.