Why Gratitude Can Make You A Happier Person

By Sizwe Ray Shabalala

Posted 2 years agoGROWTH

The Importance of Appreciation

When it comes to love and life experiences, you often hear of people giving off “expert” advice telling you to “live in the moment.” But none of us actually really stop to think about wat that actually means.

Living in a time now where people listen not to understand but to respond; where people are too afraid to make their own decisions so they rather have the media and the rest of the world tell them how to live their own lives.

For the most part, the media places importance on the “wrong” things and because so many of us are following what the media tells us, we too, place importance on the wrong things.

The media trains our minds from an early stage to always have expectations and it is because of this that some people can never truly “live in the moment”. To live in the moment is to have no expectations and simply appreciate the moment for what it is at that point in time.

Choose the Right Perspective

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live as if everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

Appreciation is everything. Life can be both hard and beautiful, it all depends on how you look at it. Happiness fluctuates.

A very wealthy person can be upset over the fact that he could not close a deal or that there was a glitch at the power station and so now he has no electricity for a few hours.

A homeless person can be happy over the fact that he managed to get a warm shelter to sleep in for the night or that a stranger just gave him a buck or two of which he did not have to. It does not mean that the poor people are better at appreciating than the well-off people.

Sure, everyone has their good days and bad days. What matters the most is that we place importance on things that matter. There is good and bad in all of us but it is the choices we make that define our experiences. When you look around at all the things that you have, from relationships, family, and career, and you begin to appreciate these things—life becomes more beautiful.

As soon as we separate our mindset from the notion of attachment that the media/system and the world has planted in our minds, we begin to see things for how we personally want to see them.

The absence of attachment to the idea of what something should be allows us to begin to live in the moment and appreciate the important things in life. This automatically brings a feeling of contentment and we stop stressing about the things that we should not be stressing about in the first place and begin appreciating the things that truly matter.

When you are at your best you are able to live in the moment. You are able to appreciate the person you are with, relationships, family, and the blessings you have.

Limit Your Expectations

Once you reach this level of appreciation you will begin to see that not only do you need less, but the universe somehow rewards you with more. This high level of appreciation will allow you to see that the only thing that was holding you back was attachment. We become so attached to desires, wants and things so much to the point that we cannot see anything else around us other than our desires.

We become so fixated on expectations that we approach everything with that mindset. This is a very dangerous space to be in because it can eventually exhaust you completely.

This is where suffering and unhappiness really comes from. Ask yourself why there is unhappiness in your relationship, the answer could very well be linked to the idea of attachment and expectation. Right now you are probably wondering what do I mean by this, well let me put it to you like:

You had an attachment to an idea, an expectation of what a successful relationship should be and as soon as things started going the complete opposite of what you had in mind, you became unhappy and discontent. You are so fixated on a happy ending that you completely give up the middle.

I read a novel a couple of years ago, I think it might have been by John Green and there was a quote that always stuck out for me: “I always had this idea that you should never give up a happy middle in the hopes of a happy ending, because there is no such thing as a happy ending. Do you know what I mean? There is so much to lose.”

I find myself coming back to this quote often. So much can happen in that middle, so much love, laughter and joy but because of your expectations, you fail to really appreciate this process and so you give it up.

Instead of just appreciating that person and appreciating the time, you put an expectation on your relationship. There is pain, tears, regret because they did not live up to your expectations. But the real problem here is not them, it is your attachment to an idea—your expectations that you had coming into the relationship.

Nowadays, when relationships go through a rough patch, people just log on to social media and get high off this false sense of security and appreciation. They value their worth based on likes/comments and inboxes filled with colourful words that have absolutely no depth and the person who loves and appreciates you for who you really are, the person who loves you with no filter, becomes a second option, not a priority.

The media has taught us to place importance on the wrong things and no good can come from this. Attachment. Expectation. Disappointment.

Appreciation – The Key to Long Lasting Happiness

“Learn to appreciate what you have before time makes you appreciate what you had.”

When you have not been practicing and training your mind to think like this, it takes time to get into the habit. I have been religiously listening to J. Cole’s 2014 Forrest Hills Drive album and as well as Riky Rick’s album Family Values and I think it is because they both place an importance on this notion of appreciation.

The monetary things, the material things and even the success that you are chasing will never be enough. If money is what you care about, there is no amount of money that will ever make you stop. If it is success that you are after, you will never have enough. You will never be satisfied. It is a never-ending cycle. However, if you place importance on appreciation and love, that is enough.

There will always be a house bigger than yours, a car faster than yours, someone making more money than you, etc. but if you focus on what you do not have or what you lack, you fail to appreciate all that you already have.

If you take the time right now to look around, you will realize that you have enough blessings to really appreciate the love and life you have. This goes for everyone; even the homeless person can wake up and appreciate that he still has life. If we look to these kind of things (relationships/family/love) for happiness, then it is much more attainable.

The more we practice appreciation, the more we will truly value these mere moments that feel like heaven or temporary forevers. On your bad days, when you are not able to live in the moment, you lose sight of what is important and you begin to live outside of the present.

You either stress over what is still to come or dwell in the past. If you are somewhere else mentally, it becomes impossible for you to be here in the now and this is how you lose the value of a moment.

About the author Sizwe Ray Shabalala

Sizwe Shabalala is a3rd year Double Major student in Media Studies and Journalism. You can contact and follow him on Twitter and InstaGram or email him.

2 thoughts on “Why Gratitude Can Make You A Happier Person

  1. I hate to be one of those people who post negative comments, because I almost never do, but I call b.s. on this entire article. You make it seem as though that we should just accept the way things are and that we should never even think about improving our condition or aspiring greater things, because that would be callous, would it not?

    You claim, “We become so attached to desires, wants and things so much to the point that we cannot see anything else around us other than our desires.” You cannot simply group humanity, or at least the Y generation as “we”, because this is ingenuous. Some people are materialistic assholes and only care about physical things. My question to you is… Who cares? If that’s what makes them happy and they aren’t harming anyone else then who cares?

    The same goes for the homeless hippie who looks down on the person who lives for materialistic things. This type of person chooses to live without any materialistic goods and desires to become one with nature. My question to you is… Who cares if they are happy?

    Why are you trying to tell people how to live their life and what’s best for everyone. This b.s. is so laughable. Why not make the article about having a balance between materialistic goods and simply enjoying nature and all that it has to offer. It doesn’t have to be black or white. You can’t just put ALL people in one general group and tell everyone how YOU think we should all be and think. You sound like an extremist. Show some balance, jeez. http://www.fitnessinterest.com/

    1. When I was writing this article, I never wrote it with the intention of telling you how to live your life. The article is simply bringing light to a few key factors in life and the things I have come to learn. I am not trying to tell you how to live your life and I am not trying to tell you what you should or should not aspire to.

      Not everyone is the same and not everyone is in the same mindset. So, if you disagree with the article, guess what? That is perfectly fine, I respect that. But, there are those that appreciate the insight and perspective conveyed in the article. I have these kind of conversations with people regularly and there is always a conflict of opinions but most importantly, there is learning.

      You have shared your views, some of which I agree with and others I do not. But you know what, instead of me attacking your views and calling them “b.s”, I respect them. Not because I agree with you, but simply because I realize that we all see things differently. So instead of me posting a counter-argument to your comment, I will simply just say that, we are all entitled to our own opinions and beliefs. But never ever disregard someone else’s views just because they are different from yours. Appreciate similarities, and respect differences.
      All love.

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