Which comes first? Happiness or gratitude? Does happiness make us grateful? Or does gratitude make us happy?
More observable than not, most people would prefer hankering first for a fruition of what they want in order to be happy. As if, for them, happiness is a destination to be arrived at, a “there” and not a “here” or “now.” Seemingly, they can only be truly happy when they have attained their desired goals, when they have realized their dreams or turned them into reality – and only then can they be grateful too. For them, thus, gratitude is only a consequence of happiness.
Whilst, on the contrary, I find the following words from an anonymous sage on social media profoundly captivating:
“Happiness does not create gratitude. Gratitude creates happiness. Gratitude is your foundation for all that you want. It is inevitable that you will have to overcome obstacles, so you must stay strong and humble. If things don’t work out for you, or you don’t get what you want, you learn to be more appreciative of what you already have.”
Wow! I’m quite bedazzled by such thought. I’d like to think then that, most likely, being grateful for what we have can help us manifest what we want.
But, truth to speak, even if we don’t manifest what we want, by itself, being grateful for what we have can already make a mountain of difference. In other words, being grateful for what we have is happiness itself.
Yes, an ounce of gratitude even for the little that we have is already a pound of happiness. Given this treasure-trove of truth, it can be said then that nobody, nobody at all, is ever deprived totally of happiness! So true, because nobody, and nobody, among all of us who’ve been lovingly created by God, is totally deprived of anything. We’re not nothing at all. And, hence, by virtue of our existence or “essence” (if not, “being”), we have every reason to be grateful – and thus be happy. What makes people unhappy is their craving for more, and not being appreciative of what they already have.
We may differ in terms of “doing” or “having.” But we’re neither merely a “human doing” nor a “human having.” We’re defined neither by our “position or status” nor by our “possessions.” What makes us equal under God is that we’re a “human BEING” – a being from God, a being endowed with intellect and free choice, a being worthy of a happy and meaningful life.
Even in physiological terms, contemporary science claims that gratitude can generate smooth, rhythmic heart coherence. According to the California-based HeartMath Institute – a non-profit research organization dedicated to neurocardiology – accessing coherent heart rhythms through the conscious generation of gratitude has numerous health benefits, including increased resilience to stress, a higher degree of foresight, improved memory, clearer thinking, more energy, and even greater hormonal balance.
Not only do we gain benefits from being grateful for what we have or for the things that serve us – but also from the things that challenge us. American chiropractor, Dr. Tom Pastor, who focuses heavily on the influence of emotions on physical conditions, explains:
“Gratitude is about appreciating the elements of any situation. It’s easy to be grateful for things that directly benefit us. It tends to be more difficult to be grateful for a struggle. If we can learn to develop the ability to be more appreciative of the things that challenge us, we will be stronger and more adaptable in the long run.”
Peace ye! The late America’s Got Talent golden buzzer winner who succumbed to cancer, Nightbirde (Jane Marcrewski), cannot be more right when she said: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
So, be happy we should! That is, by being grateful for what we have, and even for our trials and struggles. And the more we are grateful, the more we will find things to be grateful for.
Indeed, in sum, Cicero’s words are truly spot on:
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all virtues.”