Principle #5: The Greatness Of Gratitude
When I was very young, I didn't know people ever grew up. I thought you stayed the same age forever...
So while I was glad not to be stuck as a helpless, drooling baby in nappies, I felt ripped-off to be just a little kid with few freedoms. The people who got to be adults were the lucky ones! I envied the lifestyle of a "grown up". All the things I could do that I wasn't allowed to do (drive a car, drink beer and stay up late at parties, be Policemen or Soldiers or Astronauts or Train Drivers, buy whatever I felt like when I went shopping) seemed to my young mind like the greatest thing ever!
But then (to my pleasant surprise) I discovered that one day, I would grow up and become one of "the adults". I pictured myself as a grown man, wearing a a train drivers' uniform) having spiky blond hair and a voice like Paul Kelly's. One day, I would be "A big man". And I couldn't wait for that time to come- how much better life would be than my current one as a 4 year old!
I bet this story is familiar to you...
Then you find yourself "grown up"- and you look back with a yearning for those carefree days as a kid. Sure your parents bossed you around, you couldn't go anywhere without permission and there were those teachers who were a real pain but...
No jobs beyond school work or housework!
So many problems you didn't have to live with and solve on a daily basis!
Ahhh...to be young again...
To quote Paul Kelly in his song 'Standing on the street of early sorrows':
"You never know just what you've lost/ Until it's yours and then its' dust"
You're familiar with this idea, right? That we take so many things or people for granted and then (for whatever reason) they're gone. Over. Done with. Only then does it sink in how much we miss their absence.
Yet despite this, we didn't recognise their true value while we still had them- we were too busy, or too engrossed in chasing "that next big thing" and delaying our gratitude until we found it- or we were too distracted by nostalgia for those other things or people of past...
Happiness isn't a destination we reach like a town on a roadmap. It all comes back to state of mind. In terms of the worlds' population, reading this article right now on the internet means that you're pretty fortunate as it is. We could be grateful simply for the fantastic opportunities that it provides us and the luck we have to exist in a time where it provides us so much ease.
But instead we'd rather complain about people we don't even know personally.
We'd rather envy those people who have "more" than us.
We'd rather yearn for "the good old days" instead.
I don't take anything for granted. I don't take this day for granted. I don't take tomorrow for granted. Without meaning to sound morbid, tragedy usually blindsides us. There's no time to consciously prepare for the loss that's about to be left behind. But just driving on the wrong section of road at the wrong time of day, boarding the wrong flight or (as we were reminded recently) even getting onto the wrong amusement park ride at the wrong time can change the trajectory of our life and strike out of nowhere.
So there are just two options: We can live in a constant state of worry about what could go wrong. Or we can live in a state of gratitude.
Every day if we take a moment, we can reflect on what we currently have or where we are that we're grateful for. Who are the people in our lives that we have right now and appreciate? What does our life situation look like and what are the good things about it?
If you've turned your small business into a large company- aren't you grateful for what you've managed to build this far and who you've become in the process?
If you're just starting out as a solopreneur- aren't you grateful for all the possibilities available to you and the new things you're learning every day?
If you're in a happy relationship- aren't you grateful for the love and support of your partner, that they've got your back?
If you're single- aren't you grateful for the freedoms that provides you?
Big family or small, kids or no kids, rich or poor, man or woman, young or old- you can definitely afford to take time out of your day at some point and say "I am grateful for- "
Your feeling of well-being, frame of mind and appreciation for the smaller things all change noticeably the moment you begin to regularly exercise this attitude of gratitude.