When I was a kid and struggled to come up with something to feel grateful for, people tend to tell me to put my self in the shoes of someone who is experiencing misfortunes greater than mine. That way, it will inspire gratitude for everything I have now which I might have taken for granted otherwise. I grew up with an idea of feeling grateful by looking at someone else’s life. I define happiness by being grateful of what I have when others don’t.
Robert Emmons said that people are more likely to feel grateful when they put their focus on others, rather than getting caught up in their own inner narratives about how things should have gone. Empathy for others can trigger a sense of gratitude, and people who have an outward focus tend to experience stronger benefits.
At the beginning, that definition was fine.
Until one day, it came to me. People have always told me ‘I’ve achieved a stable life at my age’, but sometimes I feel that I’m still not good enough. I feel like I haven’t reached anything yet, I feel that my existence doesn’t have any impact to people around me, sometimes I even feel like I’m out of reason to be happy. Then, some people start telling me “Be thankful of what you have now, not every one is as lucky as you are!”.
Then it hits me..
No.. We can not judge someone who have less than us materially as being less happier than us. Happiness has a fairly subjective meaning. It doesn’t mean that eating expensive dinner makes me happier when comparing to a little girl who eats a Halloween candy. She might be happier than me, way lot happier.
Everyone has a different meaning for happiness. When one person’s idea of happiness is another person’s idea of stupidity, I begin to believe that happiness is nothing more than a subjective concept. We need to accept the fact that not everyone thinks the same as you do, so don’t bother measure the happiness that someone experience based on our perspective.
When you feel grateful by comparing your life to others, you actually are just finding excuses to cover all your insecurities inside. The miserable life of another human being shouldn’t be a reason for us to achieve our peace.
I begin to realize that happiness should come from myself, completely! Without any comparisons. Without any suggestions. It is all about acknowledging all the things in my life and amplify it into positive emotions. Things like every single part of my body, every decisions I’ve made, every steps I’ve taken, everything I have now, every mistakes, every struggles, and every nightmares. Also, every peace I get is by understanding my value.
If people show their happiness to us, be happy for them. We don’t need to find or justify any explanation as to why they are happy or think as to why they are pretending to be happy!? Everyone have their ups and downs, so when you see other people’s happiness, all we have to do is just be happy for them.
Yes. everyone deserve to be happy, without any judgement or agreement. However, we also need to consider that every soul have their own battles and struggles, So try to be happy without taking other people’s rights. Try to understand that we are all just humans and we do need each other to survive.
Now I start to learn about being grateful and enjoy the little things in life. Just like watching my husband smile when I kiss him, preparing my husband’s lunch pack in the morning, watching my parents smile when I video called them, enjoying scented candle and classical music, talking to my friends when they need me, being happy when a patient of mine thank me or being grateful if people told me my beginner skill as a storyteller gave something good to them. To believe that my existence is the source of other people’s happiness, for me, is everything.
I understand that I could probably one day find other meanings of happiness: maybe from watching a baby grow up or even as simple as finding a new delicious food. Everything will be so adventurous, sounds interesting and a little bit scary but that is ok. I hope so…