Up until recently, I honestly had no clue what it meant to truly be grateful. I had always heard “Happiness is about being grateful” or “Be grateful for the small things you have” and I honestly thought I was grateful. See, the dictionary meaning of the word “grateful” is simple. It just means to feel or show appreciation. To me, that was simple. I was always glad I had the things I had but was I appreciative? NO! I was far from it. Here is why:
Like I said, the official meaning of the word meant to show or feel appreciation for someone or something. I started to think about it and I knew I felt appreciation for the things I had. It was easy for me to feel a sense of thankfulness for things such as my family, my friends, the roof over my head, and so on. I never really thanked my family for being there for me or providing for me. I never told my friends I was thankful for their support and everything they did for me. And as much as I thought I was showing the appreciation, I wasn’t. It became very evident that I wasn’t truly grateful for these things and that had to change. I looked more into gratefulness and it changed my whole perspective. You have to have a sense of fulfillment when you're surrounded by the things you’re grateful for. Then, I realized what I was really doing was taking these things for granted. To truly realize how grateful I was, I had to step away from reality. I had to look into the lives of the less fortunate and analyze their situations. I had to get away from my own selfishness. Here I was, thinking that these things will always be with me and I’ll always have them. But, I was wrong. As I looked into the lives of others and saw the things they were going through, I started to feel the sense of gratefulness come upon me. I was happy. I knew what it was like to be grateful, or so I thought.
A few months afterwards, I lost my great-grandfather. He was a Godly man that loved his family unconditionally. I never spent a lot of time with him until he was older and I regret that more than ever. I never took advantage of the times we had together, either. As I sat as his funeral, I began pondering how unthankful I had been, especially in my teenage years. I was making my priorities but I was leaving my family out. I knew that I was in the wrong and I had to change it. Now, I make it a point to spend as much time with my family as possible. You never know when these things will be taken away from you so you must make sure you have that sense of pure fulfillment when you do have these sacred people and things in your life.
Being grateful may not be the easiest thing in the world, but it’s in human nature to be selfish. It’s how we work. In reality though, you can do simple things to show gratitude. Here’s a few:
- Remember all the small details by keeping a gratitude journal. Start a collection of these grateful moments, and watch the good in your life pile up.
- Verbalize your thanks for your friends and family rather than doing so by phone.
- Take a break from complaining. Do not complain for 24 hours and then you will realize how quickly you jump to complaints rather than conclusions.
Again, being grateful means to have a sense of fulfillment rather than just some appreciation. Write it somewhere and never forget it because one day, these things you think are normal can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye. And when that happens, you’ll find out the meaning of being grateful the hard way.