In every given moment, we have a choice to make:
First, we could complain about what we don’t have, or can’t do, or don’t get from people and circumstances. This gives us a real hit of victimhood—which is why we do it—but it never, never leads to happiness. And while we’re complaining, we can’t feel the joy of every blessing in our lives: people, love, connections, activities, God, anything. Simply by failing to consciously choose gratitude, we guarantee our unhappiness.
Second, we could simply be grateful. For everything:
Grateful for all the personal advantages and blessings we have—too numerous to count.
Grateful to be alive.
Grateful that we have the ability to choose what we do and how we feel.
Grateful for our talents.
Grateful even for the difficulties in our life—especially while we’re enduring them—knowing that it is from these trials that we learn the most about acceptance, faith, and love.
Oh yes, we have every reason NOT to be grateful, all of which are variations on fear:
Afraid that we won’t have enough.
Afraid that somebody else will have more.
Afraid that we’re just not good enough.
Afraid that some traumatic event is hiding just around the corner, capable of snatching any happiness we have right out of our hands.
Afraid that we won’t be loved.
Afraid that we’re not worth being loved.
Afraid that genuine happiness isn’t even possible—mostly because we’ve never seen it.
But as long as we live in these fears, we’ll never be grateful, and we’ll never be happy. We can LEARN to find love and true happiness, and once we have felt that, our fears will gradually melt away. Without fear, we can finally enjoy what we do have and be grateful for it. This entire process requires a great number of conscious choices. Gratitude isn’t accomplished simply by deciding that we’ll have a positive attitude—an attitude of gratitude, admittedly a cute phrase. Gratitude is a choice that is possible only when we make the choices to banish fear, and only love accomplishes that.
We really can learn to make more conscious choices. We can learn to feel loved and to be loving. And then we can learn to choose gratitude. It’s a delightful way to live.