Viji and I went to medical school together. We last spoke in 1989. Yes, twenty years ago. So when I picked up the phone at 10 p.m. to hear her voice introducing herself, it was a very pleasant surprise!
Sunday generally finds me in a more introspective mood than during working weekdays. And maybe it’s a reflection of a common way of thinking amongst members of a generation, or perhaps we both share a similar view of life, but our hour-long discussion ranged over various topics related to our professional, family and personal lives – with near-perfect resonance on our thinking about most issues.
On this post, I’ll talk about only one of them. A mindset. One that stems from two perspectives or belief systems.
And “I want”.
What emerged from our conversation, that’s based on a collective experience of 80+ years of life on Earth, is a feeling that most discontent and unhappiness for people in our circle of contact stems from either:
A sense of entitlement – “I deserve”
A desire for what isn’t theirs yet – “I want”
And while one (the desire) can be framed in a positive way, to fire one’s path towards a set of goals, the other is generally a formula for unhappiness because, frankly, no one cares what you think you deserve!
And no one is about to bend over backwards to make sure you get it.
This seems a common theme across Western and Eastern lifestyles, and is constant across continents (at least in India and the U.S.).
So what’s the way around these two self-defeating attitudes, then?
One small shift of thinking – towards a platform of gratitude.
Being thankful for EVERYTHING one has, including the reality of being alive today, healthy, well-fed, in possession of one’s faculties, with family and friends around… for the world, for nature, for technology, for society… for yourself, for me, and for the others in the world.
In short, being grateful for everything, without a sense of entitlement for what you have, or a grasping greediness for what you don’t, is a surefire recipe for finding deep, soul-satisfying happiness and joy in daily life.
Try this simple exercise (I’ve followed it every day, for nearly ten years now).
Wake up in the morning, and with your eyes still closed, tell yourself:
“I’m grateful for being alive today!”
You’ll be amazed at how much this simple statement will change the way you view the events that you’ll face and experience through the rest of your day.
You’ll still feel you deserve some things. And yes, you’ll keep wanting stuff. That’s only human.
But you’ll feel thankful for whatever you already have – and that will make a big difference.