Photo Credit: The Encyclopedia Brittanica (picture of Seneca bust)
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
If you type “2020” into a Google search box, what will you get? You will see links to the pandemic, links to the Presidential election, and links to a lot of doom and gloom. Why? It is our natural tendency to be interested in the bad, rather than the good. Why is that?
The oldest part of our brain is always seeking danger. Call this part of you, the pessimistic part. It assumes things will go wrong, that you are in danger, and to be careful. It’s a good thing to have around, because it serves its purpose. How many people let that part of themselves run rampant?
Being grateful for what you have, being happy, and finding peace, are all internal activities. Do you find that external events impact your level of happiness? Of course. We are all affected by the things outside of us, even if only a little bit. Things like losing a loved one or a beloved pet is devastating, but it doesn’t have to destroy your life or well-being. Death, sickness, and other tragedies are all part of this life. There is no escaping them. So how do we cultivate internal happiness, gratitude, and peace? We simply choose to.
When we lost our two doggies last year (My sister’s dog Weezer, and our dog Goldie) it was sad, but it didn’t eat me up inside. I mourned their loss for a day and got on with my life. Being happy, grateful, and peaceful is a personal choice. You just have to decide.
You may be asking how I do this? Well, it began a while back, when I realized I was depending on outside circumstances for my happiness. As you can probably imagine, this is not an optimal way to live. So, I began looking around and found a philosophy called Stoicism. Here’s a link on Wikipedia if you want to check it out for yourself: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism. This is a lengthy article, so you’ll want to make a cup of your favorite beverage before you start it. But it is worth it, if you are in the same situation I was a few years back, when I began searching for a new way to engage life. The primary tenet of Stoicism is to avoid being influenced or affected by things outside of us. It is not easy, initially, but it will come as you begin to see the wisdom in controlling the only thing you can–yourself.
Oh, before I forget, if you want to read some great books on this topic, check out books by Ryan Holiday. These I recommend: The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, and The Daily Stoic. I’ve read all of them and they will provide you with all you need to pursue a Stoic’s way of life. One last note: The Daily Stoic is read daily for an entire year. It has a quote followed by Ryan’s explanation of it in real-world terms.
Have a great Thursday, folks.
Until next time…