A phrase I’ve heard tossed around is “Just be happy.” When I hear such a claim, I can think of several things why people cannot simply adopt the philosophy of “Be happy.”
On the other hand, the statement, “Be thankful” or “Be grateful” makes more sense to me. To be thankful is to enter a state of appreciation with what you have. You don’t need anything else or what someone else has that you don’t. You’re content with your life, presently. Now, this doesn’t mean you cannot aspire for more and have big goals. It simply means, “I’m enough.”
To be thankful also means so much more as you can endure through the struggles and dark phases of life in a more sophisticated manner. What do I mean by this? It doesn’t mean you won’t break down or feel like giving up. It’s more like you’re aware of the process, and you can imagine getting to the other side. But it won’t be easy.
My personal method is to seclude myself and enter a state of spirituality. I try to read more books about the spiritual life. I also read the Bible and pray. I try to think about who I am thankful for and the things I am so abundant in that unfortunately millions of others around the world aren’t.
Another element I apply is to forgive myself for my flaws. I try to embrace who I am because no one will if I don’t. I also try to visualize my flaws in a state of improvement or progress. This helps me to understand that I can be better, but it also means I’m a human.
I read the following by Thomas Moore:
“…because it seems to me that the great mystery is darker than it is bright. You don’t encounter it only in the light of pure hope and bliss. At times, you have to approach the darkness and the puzzle of your life and go through torments of self-confrontation.”
Oh, how much we learn from our torments, struggles, and self-confrontation. Personally, I feel, to go around thinking “I’m such a good person” without going through the “torments of self-confrontation” as Moore points out, leaves little room for a better self.
I feel a balance between “Be grateful, ” the self-confrontation, and the state of “in progress” all lead to peeled layers of the self. And with this realization, we can also learn to be grateful for all the parts of our humanity and life as a whole.
So, in one sentence, we need to learn to be thankful, accept the process, and know that we are capable of achieving a better self.
Thomas Moore. A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World.