Thanksgiving is just around the corner and while it is not something we formally celebrate in Australia, my twin brother and his family live in the USA so I have become more and more familiar with the concept over time.
If you are concerned about having a career that is unfulfilled or that the skills that you have will never be fully leveraged for success (amongst a whole list of concerns and worries about your future), then according to research from the University of California by Dr Robert Emmons, practicing being grateful for what you already have can both increase your happiness and increase your success.
Yes, that is correct. Being thankful for what you have increases your happiness and increases your success, which means that you increase your capacity to have more of what you want in your life.
Too often we focus only on what we want. This can increase our dissatisfaction with our present that reduces our happiness in the present.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama says that too many people spend too much of their time wanting what they don't have which causes unimaginable suffering. Think about it. You buy a new car. For a short period of time you are feeling satisfied and grateful for your new car. Then you see someone else with the same model car as yourself, but it has some extra options that you don't have on your car. "I wish I had those options." you think to yourself. Suddenly your new car isn't quite as good as your thought. So you start to suffer again.
Suffering obviously reduces happiness.
In this context is wanting what you don't have bad for you? I don't believe so. After all I facilitate the OTM Plan for Personal Success® Program which is all about identifying what you want and what you are going to do to create that future. But the program isn't just about that.
It is also about recognising what you currently have in your life for which you are grateful and identifying what you need to do to keep what you are grateful for present in your life.
As an example I am now in my 17th year of marriage with my beautiful wife Michelle. I really do love her more than the day we married. I am extremely grateful to have her as my life partner and the mother of our five children. I practice making sure that I never forgot that I am grateful for who she is and what she does. I do this because I want Michelle to be in my life both now and in the future.
Many people forget this fact. There are many elements of our lives that have contributed to our current success that will also need to be present in our future if we want to continue our success and happiness.
This means that you must plan to take conscious actions to keep the very things that make you happy now continually present in your life.
One way to do that is to create a Grateful List. Simply create a list of the things for which you are truly grateful, place that list where you can see it everyday and then look at it every day. Once every 90 days update your list.
This simple, yet effective strategy can raise your consciousness of what makes you happy in the present, while also contributing to your future success and happiness.
For all of you around the world celebrating Thanksgiving, stay safe and have a wonderful time celebrating the things in your lives for which you are grateful.