In my previous post, I blogged about ways to teach your children gratitude. Now the big question is, Why do we care about gratitude? Yes, this is Thanksgiving week and being thankful is at the forefront of the news. But why is expressing gratitude important any other time of the year?
Simply put, gratitude makes us better people. Better people make the world a better place. Having lived a “rags to riches story” and the experience of currently living in a developing country has given me an unconventional perspective on gratitude. These are the 3 main lessons I have learned from being grateful.
You don’t have to be rich to be grateful.
I know this sounds like a cliche, but it is completely true. When I was poor, I was grateful that I had a home, a flush toilet, a car, and enough food to eat. Growing up in McAllen, TX, one of the poorest cities in the USA, I knew people who did not have even what we consider the basic necessities. Even though we only had one bathroom for 7 people in the house, we never got to go on family vacations, and our meals mostly consisted of bean and cheese tacos, I was grateful. Our parents loved us and protected us. I had a grandmother that was home after school to take care of us when both of my parents were working. I am not going to lie and say that as a kid I did not wish to be able to go to a restaurant or have a bigger house. After all, that desire is what drove me to get an education to be able to afford those things. But as an adult, I have made the realization that having more stuff has not made me more grateful. When your principle metric of gratitude is measured by material possessions, you will never reach the peak. There will always be more things that you don’t have. And you cannot feel grateful when there is always something else that you want but cannot have.
I now live around people that are considered “poor” by US standards. And guess what? They are grateful for what they have. Even though they don’t live in a huge house, or have an iPhone, or the money to go on fancy vacations. They are grateful for having enough food to eat and being able to get an education. Gratitude stems from the heart, not what you have.
Gratitude will make you a kinder person.
When you show gratitude, you will not bully the waiter when you get the wrong meal served at a restaurant. You will show patience, respect, and kindness, and politely wait until your revised meal arrives. Gratitude will keep you from debasing others who may not be as fortunate as you. Instead, you will help them lift themselves up. Gratitude will inspire you to share what you have with others, whether its time, money, or talents. Gratitude will push you to reciprocate when someone has done something nice for you. Act grateful, and you will feel grateful!
You will be a happier person when you are grateful.
I think what has made me the happiest in my life is being at a point where I am grateful for what I have. I don’t live in a big house anymore. I don’t have a car. But I am grateful that I have more time to spend with my children and husband. I am grateful that we are eating much healthier. I am grateful that I am able to spend time writing, hiking in the forest, and doing yoga. That is Pura Vida! If you don’t believe me that gratitude is the key to happiness, watch the video below…
What experiences in your life have made you grateful? How have you cultivated gratitude within yourself? Let me know in the comments below.