| EVAN T ROBINSON
“The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” These wise words from Ben Franklin recently inspired me to set out on the path to do just that. I think a lot of us have been busy chasing down happiness, but I eventually came to the conclusion that making a “gratitude” adjustment is invaluable tool along that path.
I’ve done a number of things commonly believed to improve one’s mood: gaining financial stability bit by bit, attempting yoga, Google-ing “mindfulness” regularly, breaking bad habits, picking up new hobbies, eating healthier, routinely searching for YouTube videos of babies laughing, and secretly praying to Oprah every night, to name a few.
I’d say these activities have definitely conjured up a sense of happiness. But after a short time, these experiences didn’t necessarily fulfill me, and ultimately became fleeting altogether.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. But it really does start with counting your blessings. You’ll never be satisfied, if you are not grateful for the good things in your life. Take time to take inventory of all the good happening around you. But don’t neglect the not so great things, either. You also needed to be grateful for the hardship, the obstacles, the failures, and even the injustices.
Why would one want to do such a thing? Understand that the “not-so-great” are sources of wisdom in our lives. They give us strength, they teach us how to persevere and they continue the formation of our individual and collective resiliency. Happiness itself is a kind of gratitude.
For me, it also fuels my sense of humility, and keeps me in tune with the ebbs and flows of others, which we all experience by merely being alive. It feeds my communal spirit, and encourages me to use my signature strengths and virtues in the service of something larger than myself.
An example being my personal mission to contribute to the LGBTQ community’s advancing battles for equality. It has been long and cumbersome battle, but it has brought a vast array of groups together more so than ever before; all fighting for a common goal. Being thankful for every step taken makes life’s hardships conquerable.
Agnes Repplier said, “It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and yet, it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” This reaffirms my belief that happiness doesn’t depend on external conditions, and that it is governed by our mental attitude. Again, look around at all the good. Gratefully appreciate and savor such basic pleasures as companionship, the natural environment, and the daily celebrations of pride.
I’m not saying that I have found and mastered the key to happiness, but I’m getting better. So like Franklin said, go catch it, and sprinkle in a bit of gratitude to help along the way. Also, it never hurts to call on Oprah from time to time.