How To Be Happy: The Life-Changing Power of Gratitude

The story goes that there was a man who lived in a humble dwelling. And his wife was always on his back, trying to convince him to get a bigger house.

So it happens that in that little village that they lived in, there was a wise old sage. And they decided to go to this sage to ask for some guidance on how they can have a bigger house.

Sure enough, the next day, the man went to the sage, told his problem, and after a moment of silence, the sage asked him, "Do you have a cow?"

The man said, “Yes!”

The sage said, “Move the cow into the house.”

The man did as he suggested. He went back home and moved the cow into the house. But a few days later, his wife was really upset, and she said to her man to go to that sage again.

The man went back to the sage, but this time, the sage asked him, "Do you have a pig?" 

The man said, "Yes!"

The sage said, "Move the pig into the house."

The man was really confused about what was happening, but nevertheless, he went back home and did as he suggested. He moved the pig into the house.

A few weeks later, after moving all the animals into the house, his wife has gone really mad, and said to her man: Go to the sage again, but this time, tell him that we won’t move anything else into the house.

The man was already tired of this story, so he went to the sage and said, "Please help us! We really need a bigger house, but we can’t move anything else into the house. What can we do?"

The sage thought for a moment, and then said, "Oh, don’t worry about it! Go back home and get the cow out, get the pig out, get the birds, the chickens and all other animals out of the house, and you should be fine."

The man went back home and did as he suggested.

Sure enough, the next day, his wife woke up, looked around the house in amazement and said, “Oh my God! What a beautiful, comfortable house we live in!"

Even though that’s just a story, it reflects in complete accuracy what happens in our everyday life.

So many times we strive to get more, more, and more in our lives, but we forget to appreciate and be grateful for what we already have.

You see, we build these false expectations that once we’ll have more money, or once we’ll get a bigger house, or once we’ll get a better job, or once we’ll buy that new car, or once we'll achieve X, Y, Z goal, then we’ll finally be happy.

We go for the next shiny object, the next thing on the list, never satisfied and never questioning where we're going. Always wanting more than we have, we run, run and run like hamsters on a wheel.

What we fail to realize is that we are all subject to the adaptation principle.

Psychologists call it the hedonic treadmill or hedonic adaptation, which basically means that whatever happens in our life, we’re likely to adapt to it, but we don’t realize up front that we will.

The Adaptation Principle

Whatever happens in our life, we're likely to adapt to it, but we don't realize upfront that we will.

Haidt, J. (2006). The Happiness Hypothesis. Basic Books.

In other words, as you make more money, your expectations and desires rise as well, which results in no permanent gain in happiness.

So the question is, how can we prevent the adaptation principle? The answer seems to be pretty obvious. While pursuing what we want, we should at the same time create a desire for the things we already have.

In simple terms, that’s called...

Gratitude - The Forgotten Secret of Lasting Happiness and Fulfillment

You probably know already that what you choose to focus on tends to grow and expand in your life. In other words, if you focus on the negative, you’ll get more of it. If you focus on the positive, you’ll get more of it as well.

So stop looking out for the negative in every situation and start focusing on the good, on the positive, on the abundance in your life.

The mistake we make so often is to believe that we are immortal. But life is really short.

Personally, I don’t know if I’ll be here tomorrow, so that makes me appreciate every single minute of it. This day is really a MIRACLE. We won’t ever get this day back again. So let’s understand that the greatest joys in life are life’s simplest blessings.

The greatest joys in life are life's simplest blessings.

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Take the time to call your parents and tell them how much you love them. Call a friend and tell him how much you appreciate him for being part of your life. Take the time to watch the sun come up. Make the time to look at the stars in the evening. Write a thank you note to someone you care about. Take the time to hug your kids and tell them how much you love them. Extend some gratitude to everyone around you.

If you have a roof over your head, if you have two eyes, two feet, two hands, and two ears, you’re a blessed human being. Be grateful for that.

Thank you! 🙂 

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Daniel Cerescu

I'm Daniel Cerescu, and I'm the guy behind this blog. Even though most of the material on this website is free, I aim to make this free content better than anyone else’s paid stuff. My mission is to inspire and empower those who refuse to settle for anything less than an extraordinary life to live with passion, lead with purpose, and make their mark on the world.