I want you to stop scrolling and texting for just five minutes today. Hear me out.
Simply by me knowing that you are reading this right here, right now, I can tell you that you are more wealthier and more educated than 99% of humans in history. You have immediate access to over half of all information and data ever created by humankind. You can educate yourself into late night after scoffing your face with ice-cream, or on the train commute to college or work. This wasn't possible even twenty years ago.
Assuming that you live in the western world (or in some form of westernised society), then you are currently living in the most free and most tolerant society that has ever existed. Today, there is less racism, sexism, and all forms of discrimination than at any other time in history. The world today has more economic mobility than ever and traveling past borders is easier now than ever (and it will be again, after we get a grip on this pandemic).
Annoyed at a family member? Well, don't forget the fact that a third of the world's population has only one parent, and there are 153 million children who open their eyes every morning to see no parents at all.
If you go to university (I think most of you may call it college too), then you are part of yet another lucky percentage. You will probably never starve, and you will always have some form of income in your life.
The funny thing is, I don't need to tell you all this. You will tell me you've heard it all before. It doesn't change anything, right? Yet everyday we continue to feel unconfident, socially anxious, inadequate, stressed, and much more. You probably have a nice TV in your room, or at least you watch shows and movies on your laptop. You have at least two meals a day, but something is lacking and so I tell you today, that is gratitude.
Decades of research show that gratefulness and appreciation have direct correlations with life satisfaction. People who are happier tend to be more grateful and appreciative for what they have. This correlation can also be applied the opposite way too. Consciously practicing gratitude makes one happier. You appreciate what you have and you remain in the present moment. That is the key. In the faith that I belong to, this is a central thought process to be practiced daily, known as prāpti no vichār (it is important for me to point out that feeling gratitude for what you have is only a small part of the larger thought-process). Regularly practicing gratitude increases accountability, which directly leads to higher self-esteem and happiness. It also raises your vibration and people will enjoy being around you. You develop a magnetic personality.
Be grateful for the people who care for you. Be grateful for the people who love you. Just because someone doesn't show it the way you expect, doesn't mean you should shun it. You may not be the person you wish to be, but at least you have the self-awareness to notice that you are unhappy and that you wish to do something about it.
You are blessed. Regardless of whether you realise it or not. Each and every one of us here is blessed. You will forget this by tomorrow, and so you must keep reminding yourself. You must keep thinking about gratitude. Remember how it can always be worse, and believe me, it can.
Your monkey mind will over-exaggerate the negative – it's a cognitive bias. Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman, has found that the loss of something is two to four times more painful than the joy derived from gaining that very same thing. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on context), it's what has kept our species alive and thriving until today.
It's why negative news will be reported and glorified more than the positive. It's why when two cars crash and the drivers are arguing, we go closer to listen (or we are distracted from our journey). It's why we indulge in gossip and complaining. It's easier. The monkeys love it. By no means should you simply accept it and live with it, but it's acknowledging that despite the negative, there is always positive.
Gratitude is a skill. It is developed. Anyone can learn it. Anyone can do it. Start today. Start right now. It will make you feel better, as well as those around you. All aspects of your life will improve.
So, I am thankful and grateful to you today for taking out the time to read this.
I hope you can take something away.
The ball is now in your court.