The reason you aren’t happy might surprise you.
You can’t be a happy soul if you aren’t appreciative, and you can’t be a great person if you aren’t grateful. Almost everything harmonious flows from gratitude, and almost everything terrible streams from thoughtlessness.
Let’s begin with ingratitude.
Here’s a proclamation of life: callousness guarantees unhappiness. It is as easy as that. There isn’t an ungrateful happy person on the planet. And there isn’t an ungrateful reasonable person on Earth. There are two understandings.
Reason one is always feeling victimized.
Ungratefulness always leads to or comes from victimhood. Ungrateful people—by definition—think of themselves as victims. And perceiving oneself as a victim or perceiving oneself as a member of a victim group may be the single most significant reason people hurt other people—from hurtful comments to mass murder. Somebody who thinks of themselves as victims tends to believe that because they’ve done maltreated by others, they can hurt others.
And the following reason selfish people aren’t good people is that rudeness is always followed by fury. The careless are angry, and angry people lash out at others. If ingratitude makes people unhappy, then gratitude provides people happiness.
Think of the times you ought felt most grateful—were they not always accompanied by a feeling of satisfaction? Weren’t they also tailgated by a longing to be kinder to other people? The explanation, of course, is yes. Grateful personalities aren’t angry, and they also don’t see themselves as sufferers.
The problem, however—and it’s a big one, is that in U.S and much of the rest of the world, people are growing less grateful.
How?? Because people are always told that they are entitled to things they haven’t earned—what are perceived as “perks” or “entitlements.” And the more stuff that people believe they should get, the less grateful they will be for whatever they do get. And the angrier—and therefore unhappy—they will be if people don’t get them.
Here are two rules of life.
Rule number one: The less you feel entitled to, the more gratitude you will feel for whatever you get and the happier you will be.
Rule number two: The more you feel entitled to, the less fortunate you will be. That’s why, for example, kids who get whatever people want are usually less happy kids. We have a name for such children: spoiled. And no one thinks of a spoiled child as a happy child, and probably not a kind one.
The more that you feel that life or society owes you, the angrier you will get, the less happy you will be. As a result, we are raising the number of angry, unhappy, and selfish people. The other way we are making people miserable, and even meaner, is by cultivating a sense of victimhood. People are always told that they are victims because of their upbringing, because of past prejudice against their group, because of material inequality, because they are female, and for many other reasons.
Next time you want to assess any social policy, ask this question first: Will this policy increase or decrease gratitude among people? You will then know whether it is something that will bring more goodness and happiness to the world—or less.
If I were allowed one wish, it would be that all people be grateful. Gratitude is the source of happiness, and the source of goodness; and the more good people, and the more happy people there are walking around, the more comfortable and better our world will be.