Whether you care to acknowledge it or not, life itself is already the perfect gift that you can ever receive. But, not everyone considers life a special gift. For others, it is a burden and a curse. Yet, those who look at life as a gift are often the ones who feel gratitude for almost everything that life has to offer—and they are also living happy lives.
When someone offers you a great gift idea, you say, “Thank you” or “I’m grateful for this.” This feeling of gratitude is the most natural response upon receiving any special gift, whether tangible or not. Unless you nurture the attitude of gratefulness for the perfect gift of life, you will never get a chance at contentment and happiness.
The Search for Happiness
Ever since the ancient times, men and women have been traveling to the farthest corners to search for happiness in their lives. Today, we live in a modern and civilized world that exposes us to things that distract us from seeing the meaning of life and that blot out our happiness. We live in a world of stress, peer pressure, demanding bosses, mean neighbors, unhealthy lifestyles, envy, anger, and greed—and all these seem to take control of the wheel and dominate the lives of many people. So many today have become like decapitated ants running around randomly, hoping to reach home, yet sadly unsuccessful.
Everyone longs for the special gift of happiness, yet not everyone finds it because, to some people, happiness is hiding behind a heavy, locked door with a special keyhole. That door can be opened with only one key—the attitude of gratitude.
Henry Ward Beecher, a prominent and influential clergyman in 19th-century America, spoke of a striking analogy illustrating the value of thankfulness. Imagine a dish of sand mixed with iron grits. You sift the sand through your fingers and look for the iron grits, but you may be unable to find all of them. But, sweep a magnet through the sand, and you’ll see how the iron particles magically get drawn to the magnet. Beecher drove home the point further: when your heart is unthoughtful like the fingers looking for the iron grits, it will find nothing; but, if you keep gratitude in your heart and go through each day with the sense of gratefulness, you will “find, in every hour, some heavenly blessing.”
Those iron grits in the sand stand for the special gift of happiness that each person yearns for. Beecher went on to say that in God’s sand, those aren’t iron grits at all but precious gold. The only way to find them is to use the magnetic power of a grateful heart. By nurturing gratitude in your heart, you live each second, minute, and hour of each day in happiness because you become alert to both the big and little things that you can be thankful for.
To Be Happy, Be Grateful
The grateful heart not only feels the warmth of happiness but also finds it much easier to express gratitude. The simplest and the easiest are, of course, the magic words “Thank you.” But, if you are a truly grateful person, words will never suffice to express your appreciation for the special gift you received. So, you write thank-you notes, send out thank-you cards, give little tokens of appreciation to people who have been benevolent to you.
But, what do you do for those who will not be able to perceive your gratitude? What do you to the dog who has taught you the value of patience by chewing on your shoes or slippers? How do you express thanks—and to whom—for the job that puts bread on your table? What do you do to painful life events and hardships that have sharpened you and molded you into a better person? What do you do to intangible gifts that come your way from an unknown or non-specific giver? Give thanks for them in your heart and mind, for that is where the ripple effect of happiness begins its outward flow to everything and everyone that surrounds you. Give thanks for everything big and small. And, whenever the chance arises, show it through your deeds, as well.
Many things that surround us tend to obscure our way towards a happy life. But, cultivating an attitude of gratitude can enlighten our way there. If you master the art of gratitude, happiness will just be a step away. Have you given thanks for the perfect gift of life today?