Too often we are blind to how great how life is.
We see what we lack, but we are not that good at noticing what we’ve got.
Our ambition to achieve more serves us in so many good ways, yet it will not add to our happiness unless we also practise a more humble and less bossy skill in ourselves: the ability to feel content, now.
Anything can be a blessing, anything can be a catastrophe, meaning, it is whatever you choose to see in it.
Gratitude is a controversial word, though. It is so lame to encourage someone to be grateful of the sun when there are so many more urgent, specific things going on in their lives. Things that may feel upsetting and out of control.
At the same time, and I am sure many of you agree with me, that out of our past catastrophes, good things have come.
Better lifestyle choices, better relationships, better jobs and wardrobes and hairstyles and skills on a variety of subjects.
In our daily lives, our happiness is to a great extent defined by whether we focus on what we have, or what is missing. If we mostly focus on what we lack, we are never really happy.
One of my favorite analogies on this subject is by Esa Saarinen, a brilliant thinker who also gives brilliant speeches:
When you are in a hockey game and the team scores, before the successful line returns to the bench, they skate past their team (that has stood up and put their hands over the edge of the rink) and quickly tap each of their teammates’ glove.
The team is happy about the goal. And no one says: “One goal only, you should have made two.”
The whole idea is absurd. When the rules are as clear as in ice hockey, everyone understands that goals are made one at a time.
Yet this is how we often react in our lives. Something good happens but we do not see it because we are so disappointed over something that did not (yet) happen.
Someone who loves us is kind enough to run to the store to get us olives, and when they return, we are upset because they got the wrong type of olives.
A co-worker performs nine tasks immaculately but does not meet the deadline on one task, and we are mad about that one thing. It was ten things that needed to be done by Friday, not nine. Everything is now ruined and the world will end.
With our own shortcomings, we are no less understanding, but often even worse.
What a waste.
That nagging and whining voice inside you, that is not you in your whole glory.
Instead, that is you seeing the situation from a very narrow perspective.
Luckily, it is never too late to start training our mind and practice seeing different sides on any subject.
A good way to begin is to simply become aware of that nagging inner voice, think of it as its own character, give it a name even. And when the nagging begins, as soon as we notice it, find a way to calm it down.
Take one step back from that inner drama.
“I understand that you are upset but I am not going to listen to you right now. I have a life to live here.”
Everyone of us is capable of achieving great things, and the world can be a wonderful place – but only if we choose to see it.