When I think of gratitude, I’m reminded of this story:
There was once a man with one eye who was quite depressed about having only one eye. As he walked down the road, lamenting about his lot in life, he ran across the man with no eyes.
The man with one eye was filled with gratitude for his one eye. How lucky he was to be able to see at all! He continued down the road with pep in his step and a smile on his face. But then he ran into another man with two perfect eyes.
Immediately his pace slowed, and he was thrown into depression again. How could he be celebrating his one eye when this man had two beautiful eyes?
This story illustrates why we can never be fully happy when we compare. When you compare, there is always someone who has less than you. It can be easier to feel grateful when you realize that you have more. However, there is always someone who has more than you. This comparison can cause feelings of discontent — and even failure — that you have not achieved what they have achieved.
But when you are content with what you have, it does not matter what others have. When you are overflowing with gratitude, you can be happy for the success others experience and help those in need. You are not comparing, you are living in gratitude for all that you’ve been blessed to have.
Another side effect of gratitude is that you attract more of what you are thankful for. So if you are thankful for your good health, you attract more good health. The same true for wealth. Similarly, when you express your gratitude and love for others, you strengthen those relationships.
I’ve always loved this quote from Oprah: “Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Starting a daily gratitude practice is a very beneficial habit. One suggestion is to begin a gratitude journal. By simply recording three things everyday that you are thankful for, you can positively impact your health and wellness.
By being thankful for what we have, we increase our capacity to receive more.
Photo source: Pillow of prayers by Sankar Sridhar