What makes you unhappy? For that matter, what makes anyone unhappy? At some level, most unhappiness is caused by a combination of two things:
- wanting things to be somehow different than they are, and
- feeling that it’s someone else’s job to make them be different
The first one may seem to be the obvious cause of your unhappiness, but I consider the second one to be both the true cause, and the one that is within your power to address. Because, really, this is about acceptance, and about power, and about responsibility. If you are willing to accept things exactly as they are, then you can be happy. If you have the power to change the circumstances that are making you unhappy, then you can be happy. If you persist in your belief that your happiness is dependent on the actions of someone else, then you can never be truly happy.
Over my next few weeks of Monday Musings, I’ll discuss various approaches to increasing your own happiness, but in this article I will be focusing on gratitude.
One extremely quick and easy way to increase your happiness with your life, just exactly as it is right now, is to practice an attitude of gratitude. This can be done in several ways:
- Every morning, before you get out of bed, think of ten things in your life you are grateful for. A house to live in, a warm bed to sleep in, food to eat… The book in your living room that you started reading last week, or the public library where you can check out all the books you could ever want to read… It’s up to you – just think of ten things (try not to use the same ten every day, day after day…).
- When something happens that annoys you, or makes you unhappy, think of some reason why you can be grateful for it. If you’ve heard of Pollyanna, you may remember the “Glad Game” that her father taught her – this is the same thing. And it works! Pollyanna was the happiest child around 😉
- During your commute home from work (or school…), find as many things as you can to be grateful for. A place to sit on the crowded bus, heated seats in your car, reaching the traffic light before it turned red.
Even if this all seems like trivial stuff that doesn’t address any of your reasons for being unhappy, it can be an effective mindset change, if you’ll let it. If you choose to focus on all of the bad things in your life, how can you help but be unhappy; if you choose to focus on everything that’s good in your life, you must certainly come a little closer to being happy.
Give it a shot – what do you have to lose?