Radical Gratitude


By Shaylin Ebert, licensed marriage and family therapist

We often find ourselves saying, “If only I had – fill in the blank – then I would be happy.” IF only I had more money, respect, better job, the perfect partner, a more peaceful relationship with my mother, a well-behaved dog, the list goes on.

IF only I could get pregnant, THEN I would be happy.

It’s easy to believe the truth promised by the fulfillment of our desire or desires. If we get what we desire, our tendency is to crave more. Even if our initial desire is met, chances are another one is soon to follow.

So what is the way out of this cycle?

One simple practice that can break this cycle is gratitude. Gratitude – a feeling of appreciation or thanks – is a quality of acknowledging and appreciating what we already have.

Instead of having your happiness, contentment and well-being dependent on something that has yet to happen, what would it be like to rest it on what is already here?

This does not mean that we can not have hopes and intentions for the future, but that you can be happy now without waiting for something else to happen first.

Begin by asking yourself, “What am I grateful for right now, in this moment?” It doesn’t have to be big. It can be a door that was held open for you or the smell of crisp fall air or crunch of leaves under your feet. It could be gratitude for family, friends and loved ones. It could even be picking the fast line at the grocery store – for once!

The cup of gratitude is filled just by noticing the moments of thankfulness throughout the day. It’s not anything we have to create or make happen, but merely catching the tiny – and big – moments, events, people, tastes, smells, sounds and touches that we often miss waiting for happiness.

Be happy now. Appreciate what you have and trust, at least in this moment, that it is enough.