In Vietnam there's a school of Buddhism called the Four Gratitudes. Just by practicing gratitude, we can find happiness. We must be grateful to our ancestors, our parents, our teachers, our friends, the Earth, the sky, the trees, the grass, the animals, the soil, the stones. Looking at the sunlight or at the forest, we feel gratitude. Looking at our breakfast, we feel gratitude. When we live in the spirit of gratitude, there will be much happiness in our life. The one who is grateful is the one who has much happiness while the one who is ungrateful will not be able to have happiness.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Two Treasures: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening & True Happiness,
This is one of my favourite quotes. Lets brush aside for the moment that it is religious in context as that is totally irrelevant. What it says is very simple. Be grateful for the wonderful things in life and you will be happy. Be grateful for the mediocre things in life and you will be happy. Be grateful for what you learn from the bad things in life and you will be happy.
For most people gratitude is saying thank you when they are given something. Or those occasional moments when everything in life has lined up right and your day is perfect. We tend to be grateful to those closest to us, which is natural, but pay no thought to all the other people who contribute to our daily lives.
Where did your breakfast come from this morning? Just spare a moment to think of all the people it took to get your toast or cereal to your table today. From those who harvested the raw ingredients to those who made it into the products you need, via those who transported it to you and finally to those who sold it to you. How about your cup or tea or coffee or glass of juice?
Lets take it a step further. How do you feel about everyone you encountered on your way to work this morning? Were you grateful to the driver who let you out but spared no thought to everyone else? What about the sun that shined on you or the rain that fell? Both have their place in our lives but we are generally more grateful for one than the other.
On my walk into work this morning I was grateful for the moment of joy that the squirrel bouncing through the park brought me, the beauty of the rainbow I saw as it gently started to rain (second one in 2 days, pics to come), and all the people I saw on my way who I made eye contact with. I should be grateful for all those I saw who I had no connection with as they are just as worthy but it is difficult to do so.
If we spent more time being grateful for what we have and less time believing that there is something better I think we would all be a little happier.