I have learned in the course of my life that gratitude is the only true path to happiness. And believe me, it is not easy to be grateful every single day. I know. Some days you’re going to lie in bed and think, what is the point of all of this. The first day after the most traumatic event of my life, and believe me there have been a few, I remember thinking about death. A lot. How it would have been easier if it had just ended that way instead of leaving me alive. It’s easy, so easy for our minds to slip down such a dark, dark path that you may never recover from.
Therapy, of course, will help. And for me, it was a excellent therapist who told me where I should have been looking instead of where I was looking.
“Gratitude,” he said, “is the best way you can truly appreciate your life, no matter how broken you are. Gratitude for even the little things. Gratitude for the big things.”
Being grateful does not mean you have to forget the wrong that was done to you. Being grateful means you remember that there is a lot of good that is left in your life. If you can, in your worst possible moment, find someone or something to be grateful for, then you have already succeeded against your heartache, against your pain. Against the thing that has tried to defeat you.
Life, as we all know, can be a riptide of despair, a long drawn agonising sense of catastrophe, a load of existential situation all at once. You lose people. You lose opportunities. You lose jobs you love. You lose love. You lose your health. You lose yourself. In this never ending sea of loss, it is important to remember, there is hope. There is always hope.
Maybe your hope is in a person, someone kind and warm hearted and gentle – a parent, a partner, a sibling, a friend. Maybe your hope lies in your creativity, music, or writing, or singing, or dancing. Maybe it’s time for an experience, a wonderful long journey you have been intending to take but haven’t been motivated enough to do it until now. Whatever it is, remember to be grateful that you have an opportunity, a person, something that makes you feel alive, even when every part of you, especially your heart feels like you’re dying.
If you wire your brain to think of the beautiful things that keep you alive, then any kind of negativity, no matter how great is easy to defeat. Because gratitude is the greatest weapon of all. It inspires empathy, it inspires kindness, it inspires hope. And most of all, it inspires you start a journey of healing down whichever road suits you, because your individual journey of healing is the most important thing you will ever experience.
Till date, my mantra since learning about gratitude has been “The things that have broken me have helped me remember the things that make me whole. The things that have broken me have made me appreciate the people who have been there for me through it all. The things that have broken me do not control my happiness, or my joy. For I am already whole. And I am so grateful to the universe for giving me things to be grateful for.”
This may not work for you. But it did for me. And every day presents itself as a new opportunity to become a better, stronger human being since I learned these words.
Find yourself by finding what you are grateful for. And make yourself whole again too.