Gratitude: Essential to a Happy Life

Gratitude: Essential to a Happy Life
Two people I am very grateful for, son Nicky and wife Tessa.

When I was younger dealing with my untreated addictions and complex PTSD I had a negative attitude. It would be fair to say that I came by it honestly but still, You suck, I suck and this situation sucks too, I’d think. What I didn’t realize was that my mindset manifested itself in everyday outcomes. I had no belief in my abilities, distrusted others and assumed they thought ill of me. Day by day my thought processes pushed me to the darker edges of life and deeper into my addictions.

I looked for the evidence of my negative mindset and it was easy to see it confirmed. Newspaper in hand, I’d slap at the rag and exclaim, “Look at this! War, murder, graft and corruption!” I wasn’t wrong, these things existed then and they do now and they will continue to some degree or another for as long as man roams the earth. But was my perspective wide enough? What was I not seeing?

It is a distortion to see life in absolute terms. What would you think if I told you that everything and everybody is wonderful, all the time. Nothing but aces! You’d say that I was foolish and naïve and rightly so. But a negative attitude is more widely accepted and deemed “realistic,” often. What is reality? There is no question that life is hard, full of struggle and problems. But, if we see things as only negative does this not lead us to a kind of acceptance of how things are?

Isn’t it also true that there are positive aspects to life, things we can enjoy, people that uplift us activities we love, and situations that work out to our liking. If we can acknowledge that there is good as well as bad, we will start to give ourselves a better existence.

Gratitude becomes most useful to me when I’m struggling. I remind myself of the things, big and small that are good about life: books, music, a strong cup of coffee. My wife, my children, shelter, food friendship. Doing so pulls me out of my self-pity and puts my on course for finding solutions to my problems and helps me realize how blessed I am. Gratitude is an essential aspect of leading a happy life.