A Grateful Life is a Happy Life

· December 11, 2017

For many people being grateful is just an almost automatic act of courtesy. You thank people when they give you a gift, when they do you a favor, or when they are kind to you. The rest of the time it doesn’t seem particularly important to be grateful for anything. Gratitude, then, has been reduced to specific circumstances, and normally social ones.

Even in those particular situations where you can be grateful, gratitude is often not experienced or expressed from the bottom of the heart. Only very rarely do we say “thank you” with total conviction. And then after a while the feeling fades.

 “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls flourish.”
-Marcel Proust-

Some people just think it’s the right thing to do. That’s what it’s all about: saying “thank you” at the right time and, if possible, returning the favor, or the kindness they gave us. What else could it be?

Although this how it is in today’s world, if we act like this we are actually trivializing gratitude. We forget that being grateful gives us extraordinary strength, which contributes to better mental health, and we’re missing out.

Being grateful is much more than saying “thank you”

Gratitude is a joyful feeling. Even if the gratitude is for some help or kind words when you’re sad. Regardless, gratitude fills us with a warm, rewarding feeling. In fact, the word “gratitude” comes from “grace.” And “grateful” is defined as something that causes us well-being or satisfaction.


a grateful boy smiling and holding a flower

We thank someone when we are aware that we’ve received more than we’ve given. We feel like we came out ahead. And so, spontaneously, we feel the need to be grateful for that “gain.”

Gratitude implies then not only politeness, but more so an experience of satisfaction, joy and, of course, happiness. Whoever is grateful, is happy. And whoever is aware of the many things he has to be grateful for is even happier.

Why do many people find it hard to be grateful?

A lot of people feel they don’t have anything to be thankful for. They could recite a detailed list of all the times when they needed something and didn’t get the help they needed. Or all the times they gave something to someone and it wasn’t reciprocated. Their own personal scale that weighs what they give versus what they receive always tilts away from gratitude.

They have a curious way of reasoning that always puts other people in debt to them. They expected more than others could give and so, needless to say, they always fall short. They believe that “they could have done more”. So why be grateful?

a girl with red hair being held up by white birds

Those who think this way are usually rather spoiled people whose ego has been puffed up way too much. When there’s a high dose of narcissism, what others give — what life gives — will never be enough. They will always feel they deserve more and, of course, they’ll only find more reasons to not be thankful.

Gratitude has power

Gratitude is something that is given to another person, to a group of people, or to something in the abstract. It belongs to the world of giving, not receiving. But as we said earlier, the mere fact of having an attitude of gratitude implies enjoyment, satisfaction, and happiness. It also purifies the heart.

If it weren’t for the selfless acts of others, we would probably not even be alive. It’s thanks to the mother who carried us, who suffered the intense pain to give birth to us and protected our defenseless life when we couldn’t do anything for ourselves.

It doesn’t matter if she herself wasn’t ready to be a mother, or if she could’ve done things better. The simple act of motherhood already signifies a gift. There are also others who helped us when we entered this world, when we were growing up in those vulnerable first few years.

a mother hugging her daughter

Then later one we had teachers who taught us, friends who listened to us, significant others who supported us, and  people who trusted us. Our day-to-day life is possible thanks to many different people, but sometimes we don’t even notice it. We aren’t able to see how very much they contributed. And instead we focus on what they haven’t done for us.

To live gratefully is to live happily. More than a virtue, or a value, it’s an attitude towards life. You can only be grateful if you are humble. If you understand that nobody owes us anything, nobody has an obligation to please us. When we wrap our minds around these truths, then we will truly take great steps forward in our life and in our mental health.