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Gratefulness leads to contentment, but negativity tends to reign.

Photo by Candice Picard on Unsplash

Contentment is a funny idea. We tend to strive for more money, more friends, and more popularity. Yet, running after those things tends to leave us wanting all the more.

The blessing of contentment allows you to be at peace in the present. It’s a step towards mindfulness about your position in life.

I find it hard to be content if I am not grateful. Gratefulness allows a door to contentment to open.

Of course, I am not saying we shouldn’t have ambition. But for me, ambition and covetousness are two different things. It’s one thing to push ahead to provide a better life for ourselves and our family. If moving forward is meant to be better than others or compete with what others have, then we are being covetous.

Gratefulness has a way of bringing balance. It’s something that brings a perspective to almost anything. If I am more grateful toward my wife, it’s easier to focus on positive attributes. The same effect comes with material things.

The Negativity Loop

It’s unfortunate, but we all tend to give negative experiences more weight than a positive one. Take a moment and think of bad experiences from the last six months. Now, give me positive experiences.

If you are like most people, you likely had more bad experiences. The negatives were more visceral and easier to revisit, if you didn’t.

Unfortunately, we’re wired to be negative. I have a five-year-old, and we worked hard to be positive and cut down the use of “No.” It’s not easy because he is an active child.

Yet, it seems the most common complaints he brings up are the times we either said “No” or disciplined him. Why not bring up the good times?

But, I can’t fault him because it’s easy for me to get hung up on past negative experiences. It’s annoying!

Fighting Negativity

I have found that the fight against a negative outlook is not easy. But some practices make it easier to change.

I have begun a daily gratitude list. It’s been great at helping me put things in perspective. I am not going to lie. Lately, it has been hard because I have a newborn. (Very little sleep.)

But, that opens a whole new area of things to show gratefulness. Some days I am reaching for something to show gratitude. Yet, other days reasons for gratitude are very clear.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

As much as I have grown in gratitude and fought against pessimism, the above quote hits the nail on the head. It’s easy at times to utter gratitude, but living by it is the key.

What steps have you taken to increase gratitude in your life?