As a child I was told to be grateful for what I had and not to be greedy or jealous of what other people had. It seemed like a good thing to teach children and I followed my parents' model by teaching the same lesson to my children. Of course by then I knew just how hard it can be to be grateful for what you have. There always seems to be something more to want or something better to be or to do. Other people always seem to have more luck, more money, more opportunities. It can be easy to wallow in one's own misfortune or lack of luck, especially during tough times. Being grateful means moving above our own life, to reflect on its positive aspects and to be open to thinking about others in helpful and cooperative ways.
As I reflect on this, I find that It's really no surprise to me now that research is telling us that being grateful has mental health benefits. If we deliberately cultivate gratitude we can increase our wellbeing and happiness. Grateful thinking and expressing it to others is found to be connected with increased levels of energy, optimism and empathy.
Maybe this is a timely reminder for us to go back to some of the core values taught to us as children, to be reminded of how we can connect to others rather than only thinking about ourselves. Perhaps our parents learnt this lesson a very long time ago and we're now ready to really hear it.