“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice” ― Meister Eckhart

It’s easy to find the fault in things. All too often we dwell on the imperfections in others, in ourselves, and in our circumstances. This is especially true when things aren’t going our way. To “cure” the anger, sadness, or frustration we create theoretical scenarios that we believe will make us happy: “If only I had a better job I would be happy” or “if only I had more money I would be happy.” Maybe, but just as easily, maybe not. You’re guessing after all.

If I asked you to name just one thing that recently made you happy (doesn’t have to be Disney singing-birds, blooming flowers happy), you wouldn’t have to guess. Chances are you could name one moment that made you happy. Sadly, these moments come into focus for just an instant as we race by them doing 120 on the “if only” highway.

These moments are often eclipsed by the promise of some mythical mega-happiness, the one we’ve been promised by TV and movies that will allow us to live “happily ever after.” By preoccupying ourselves with theories of what might make us happy, we don’t value the things that do make us happy.

One simple way to avoid dwelling on the lousy things in life, is by cultivating a practice of gratitude. Gratitude training has been proven to have substantial benefits to our well being. Fortunately, it’s also very simple to get started. Every morning and evening, write down 1-3 things that you’re grateful for. No matter how long or painful your day may have been, take a few minutes to reflect. It could be a simple as: “I’m grateful that the 6 train’s a/c was working today.” It allows us spend just a little more time with the good things in our life.

Don’t get me wrong, setting goals is critical. The issue is we’re increasingly becoming a culture that values accomplishment over appreciation. If you can’t appreciate what you accomplish, then what’s the point in pursuing it? By being more in touch with what does make you happy, you’re much more likely to set more meaningful goals. You can also better enjoy the ride.

What are you grateful for?

More on Gratitude:

The Power of Gratitude

Boost Your Health with Gratitude

Image by: Josh Felise

About Ryder Carroll

Ryder is the creator of the Bullet Journal. He's a Brooklyn-based digital product designer and art director.
  • Parul

    I totally agree. Being grateful brings so much happiness. I published my Gratitude list today and happy to share – http://happinessandfood.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/gratitude-list-september-2015/

  • I completely agree. Taking the time to think about what I’m grateful for makes a world of a difference in how I perceive the world and what goes on in my mental chatter. I think the journey IS the destination, and it’s all those little things that happen along the way that truly make the bulk of the good things in our lives. It’s worth being aware of them and mindfully grateful to have a more contented life. 🙂

  • Amy Michele

    Thank you for the inspiration Ryder. It is always a good reminder to focus on gratitude!

  • Emily

    I just started my bullet journal today and I’m still playing with different ideas. I think I’ll try adding gratitudes to my daily task page, maybe using a smiley face as a symbol.