Everybody knows that the key to happiness
How to be happy isn't the question. The question is how to practice gratefulness daily. Engraining a habit takes effort and patience, two things I don't always have the energy for, but I know I want more of.
I live by a theory and philosophy where easy doesn't necessarily mean good. While easy makes for a great break and recharge, I get pretty bored when it's all the time. As do our kids, we notice how restless they get when there aren't sufficient challenges or problems to solve.
Any time I've injured myself, I always have the thought, "I wish it was 5 minutes ago before I did that!". And so, this sense of retrospective appreciation sets in, thankfulness for the health I had before it was gone.
But wouldn't it be nice if we could all learn to fully appreciate items, friends, family, health, and comforts before losing them? I'm really trying to figure that one out. What if we could all change Joni Mitchell's famous Big Yellow Taxi line, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone" to "We knew what we had and fully appreciated it for its duration and beyond?" Who do you know that is like this? Tell me because I want to hang out with them.
Fully appreciating what we have, whether it be a possession or the moment we're in, takes perspective and it takes being present. It takes mindfulness and the ability to breathe through the hard. It takes knowing that breaks are always an option, because they are. Actually, I want to emphasize that:
From a proper perspective, breaks are always an option.
I get so tied up in the future, the past, and the goals that I often can forget to enjoy the tasks at hand. I forget to just stop and be in the moment. In the end, the challenges are the very things that make achieving the targets so rewarding.
Related side note: medals for every kid, passing grades for every kid, participation awards, etc. Total garbage. The kids know it, and so do we.
Back to my initial big question. How do we learn to practice gratefulness daily?
I don't have a one size fits all answer.
Please comment below.
Owen Dargatz is a Canadian father of five, husband of one, and writes about life as a family man. Having grown up with three sisters in Peru, he has a unique view and appreciation for Latin American culture, travel, and family values.