One of the major components to happiness is cultivating a sense of gratitude. Being grateful really does help you to take note of every little thing, to value and appreciate every moment. You grow content with what you have, joyous even.
Unfortunately I know of no way to attain a state of gratitude, without first letting go of any sense of entitlement. All in good humor here, but this idea tends to cause a surprising amount of angst these days, so I apologize in advance for any distress this may cause.
When we accept that we are entitled to nothing, not to breath, not to life, not to our health, not to our children, not to a spouse, not to our money or our jobs, not to people treating us well, not to a car that runs, or a home, or anything at all, than every single thing we do have will take on a new meaning and become a blessing.
Gratitude is not just, “the quality of being thankful,” it is also, “a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
So much of our own suffering stems from focusing on what we don’t have and what behaviors we wish others would change about themselves. The world is broken, my spouse is defective (or I haven’t got a spouse because all men/women are defective.)
Whatever particular thing that disgruntles us, it generally comes from this idea that we are entitled, that we deserve better. That’s just human nature, that’s what helps us to strive and conquer and do better. The problem comes about when we start to lose perspective, when our entire lives become about the constant striving for something better.
One thing that can really ease that suffering is to stop striving for a few moments and just focus on being grateful for where you are and what you have at the moment. If you’re married, take the time to focus on what you really appreciate about your spouse, rather than what’s wrong with them. Do the same with your kids. If you don’t have those people in your lives, be grateful for that, too. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Consider the gifts you have been given, take note of every good thing you have going for you.
Letting go of a sense of entitlement requires a bit of humility, because so often our pride wants to make sure we are getting what we deserve. (Ha, being grateful you are not getting what you deserve, is another key to happiness.)
Somebody smart once told me “sheep don’t strive!” They really don’t, they follow the shepherd, they munch on the grass with gratitude, and they never worry about what they are entitled to. People are not as smart as sheep however, we have to work much harder at it.
Human nature is interesting, we don’t like facing the reality of the impermanence of our own existence and yet at the same time, we require constant change. We need people around us to change, the broken world to change, our spouses to change, the fact that we don’t have a spouse to change, then we fear losing our spouse….
Sometimes you just have to stop the crazy train, disembark, and take the time to rejoice in the moment.