Someone (I do not know who) once said: “It is not happy people who are grateful, it is grateful people who are happy”.
Do you agree?
Most of us assume that happy people are grateful because people who are happy in and with their life will also be grateful, right? Not necessarily. They’re probably more likely to feel grateful for everything in their life compared to someone who moans and complains their way through life, yet happiness does not determine gratefulness… it’s not that black and white.
What is black and white, however, is that people who are truly grateful in and with their life, they will also be happy.
The answer to happiness and a happy life is, therefore… gratitude and practising gratitude.
To put this into perspective, somewhat, let me share a little about myself. Perhaps you'll relate.
A number of years ago I worked in Corporate Finance and whilst it was far from my dreamjob and, actually, I didn't much care for the rigours of the job itself, I was (mostly) surrounded by colleagues I liked and the job did pay for an enjoyable lifestyle.
At the time I was living and working in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is quite the melting pot of nationalities as, at that time anyway, many international and American companies attracted to the city would establish European Head Offices there. And it was in one such Head Office that I worked, along with colleagues from other parts of the United Kingdom, America, and all throughout Europe. From Monday to Friday, we'd work hard. From Friday evening (often it started on a Thursday evening) through the weekend, together we partied hard. Life was great. I had a wonderful lifestyle, a beautiful city centre apartment, amazing colleagues and friends, and the money to go traveling when I wished.
Apart from a few work related matters, I would say that, in general, I was truly happy in life.
Happy and grateful, however? Hmmmm...
I can remember being on a weekend away, visiting the city of Oslo. Rather than soaking up my surroundings, creating wonderful memories to look back on, I can best remember myself sitting in a park thinking, "what city will I visit next?"
Back then, such thinking wasn't unusual for me. No matter what I was doing, where I was visiting, who I was with, my mind was only partly present; the rest of my attention and thinking was focused on, "what's next?" It was as if I was on some kind of life-countdown, trying to cram so much in without actually being present and feeling grateful for all life was offering me to enjoy.
So whilst, in general, I had a wonderful and happy life, I was far from grateful.
Skip forward a number of years to when I left corporate and started to work for myself.
Wlaking away from a steady, reliable salary was not something I approached lightly. However, by this time, the job, my long working hours and, no doubt, my lifestyle had taken its toll on my body and I had fallen very ill with Crohn's disease. I had to weigh up my options which basically came down to money or health. And I chose health.
At the time, I guess somewhat naively, I didn't realise that walking away from corporate to start my own business would be such a huge step and learning curve. Perhaps I had my head well and truly stuck in the sand believing I could immediately earn the same (or almost the same) salary I received through my own business as I had received through my corporate job. Whatever I was thinking, wherever my mind was at, I was in for a rude awakening as, financially, I really struggled.
The early years when I started my first business were probably some of the darkest years of my life. I struggled financially. I struggled mentally. And I struggled emotionally. I had more sleepless nights than I care to remember. And when I did sleep, I'd waken up in tears not knowing how I would pay my bills.
I honestly cannot think of a darker time in my life.
Thankfully, though, a lot has changed since then. It doesn't mean that on every account my life is back on track. I still struggle in many areas of my life. However, the one difference from back then to today is my mindset and outlook. When I hit my darkest and lowest point, I knew I needed to do something. I couldn't keep spiralling downwards. And, so, I started my healing journey.
That journey comprised a lot of mindset and energy work. Even though I was still very much struggling financially, somehow, somewhere the money would show up for my monthly healing, mindset and energy sessions. Gradually those sessions lifted me out of the dark pit I had found myself in and I could look at life more positively and optimistically.
As I moved into a more positive mindset, I discovered the energy of gratitude and began building a gratitude practice for myself. Gratitude, for me, has been the gamechanger.
Friends who have been in life for many years, have often asked how I can be happy with my current life, happier than I ever was when I worked in corporate and could do and live however I wanted. They wonder because they can see that I still haven't attracted the same level of income I received when I worked in corporate, they can see that I don't yet enjoy the lavish holidays and last-minute weekends away that I had when I worked in corporate. To them, my life is more restricted, more confined and not as free.
And, yes, my life isn't as seemingly free as it was in the past. However, because I have discovered so much to be grateful for in my life today, I find that I am happier now than I was living my former financially-abundant life for which I was unable to experience gratitude.
Today I am grateful to be able to sit here and write this article without a deadline hanging over my head. Today I am grateful that I can work from the relaxed comfort of my home rather than experience the stress of rushing around to get to a job by a set time, something that doesn't work well with Crohn's disease. Today I am grateful that I can work close to our bunnies, care for them, cuddle them and keep an eye on them incase they fall ill and I need to spring into action to help them. And those are just some of the big things I'm grateful for. Little things such as not having to wear a suit or heels, not having to head out in the rain or the cold, finishing work when it feels right for the day rather than waiting until my contract states that it' the right time to finish (which was usually well outside contract hours)... and so much more.
Whilst it's good and necessary to attract money to pay my outgoings each month, money no longer brings me happines. It's gratitude for the big and little things I get to enjoy and experience on a daily basis that brings me happiness.