Brits have a reputation for being the complainingest (I do love my made up words) nation on the Planet. Everything from the weather to the state of the Earth gets the sharp side of the national tongue. Lately I’ve noticed we are all getting to be as bad as one another, regardless of nationality. You could say its just rubbed off on me by association, but I’m not a five year old and figure peer pressure is a bit silly at my age.
Most of us in the West enjoy a standard of living that is better than at any other time in human history. But studies show that we seem to be the unhappiest we have ever been. One author I read suggests this is purely through conditioning. Leaving aside the conspiracy theories about why this is and who’s benefiting, the fact of the matter is we have developed the very bad habit of always looking for the negative and wanting things we haven’t got. We are convinced we will be perfectly happy when *insert latest Holy Grail here*. Whether its more money, a different job or home or wanting to look younger/thinner/pick something.
The fact we keep overlooking is that this pattern of thinking results in false happiness. Once we have the latest must have, its not long before we are onto the next. Cradle to grave, perpetually unhappy and anxious and with no real idea why. It is the societal conditioning and our skewed view of the world around us that makes us feel discontent. Like a drug, the euphoria of each new acquisition wears off and we find ourselves on the same vicious merry go round, constantly hankering for new and better.
Here is an interesting exercise I read about; imagine you have won a fabulous sum of money. Enough so that it would remove any future worries about it. Now list all the things you would change with that money. Then list all the things that would remain just the same despite the money. Apparently for many of us, there isn’t really much that would actually change. Our family and friends would still be there (perhaps better off by our sharing our good fortune), and our tastes and preferences would likely alter very little.
So how do you break this soul destroying habit? Like any bad habit it isn’t easy, but if you can do it if you truly want to. I’m on a quest to Quit the Bitchin’. I figure if I was able to conquer a twenty year old cigarette habit (ten years a non smoker! Go me!), I can beat this negative mindset.
To adopt an attitude of gratitude, ask yourself these questions;
1. Who or what in your life currently makes you happy?
2. What in your life bring you most meaning?
3. Who or what are you grateful for in your life?
4. What is it that brings you the most happiness and pleasure?
I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts most of your answers will have little to do with material gain. When I think about these questions, the majority of my answers involve people and other living things. It may sound cliche, but I think it is helpful to start a gratitude journal. List five things every day that made you happy. Or if that’s too cheesy for you, try to remember to write down one thing each day that made you are grateful for or made you happy. At the end of a month, reading back you will be astonished to see how many positive influences you actually have in your life.
So ready, set, get an attitude of gratitude and quit yer bitchin’!