John Lennon once said, “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” Many people strive to be happy, however, what some people may not be aware of is that one true key to being happy is simply being thankful.
John Lennon was, some argue, one of the most inspirational people that ever lived. He was a founding member of the sensational musical group, The Beatles, he, in a song he wrote and sang himself, asked us to Imagine.
I once read a book of key words that were effective when communicating. One of the words the author implored the reader to use to get their audience’s attention was “imagine.” The word “imagine” provokes the mind to think of limitless possibilities. It inspires creativity, a longing for a more perfect world, and yes, a happier world.
If you ask anyone what they want in life, many people, even before you get the question posed out of your mouth, will exuberantly and emphatically say, “I want to be happy.”
Many people seek happiness through various means: earning money, an “honest day’s work,” a job they enjoy, the company of friends, a meaningful relationship with a significant other, sex, and philanthropy, to name a few.
There are countless books dedicated to explaining to people how to obtain happiness. Recently, it has been discovered that one of the best ways to be happy is gratitude, to be thankful.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in my teen years. If you don’t know what that means, to sum it up in a few words, it basically means, if you don’t take medication, you will either be very happy or very sad. The mania is often enjoyed by people who are bipolar. When you are manic, you feel creative, witty, sociable, and brilliant. This would be the part when you feel really happy. The depression is not so fun.
The key, research has found, to happiness is being thankful; gratitude. Being bipolar, I have read up on various coping skills and mechanisms to fight and ward off depression. One of the best things I have found is when you are feeling low, is to think of three things that you are thankful for or that went well that day or that is going well in your life.
I am also an atheist. I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition, going to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. One of the things that Christianity teaches is to be thankful. There is even a hymn that sings in its lyrics, “Count your many blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done.”
Many people see Christians as happier than atheists. One of the reasons for this is that Christianity asks you to be thankful to God for the things in your life during prayer.
However, if you, like me, are an atheist, instead of thanking God, you can give real credit to the people in your life who are responsible for the things that are going great. We all have important people in our lives who have (and I’ll use a religious term here) “blessed” us. You probably have someone right now as you have read this that you have thought of that has meant a lot to you; that you are thankful to have in your life for the things they have done for you. Right now, I urge you to call them up, write them an email or a Facebook message and thank them for what they have done for you. If you do so, you’ll be happier and, due to the amount of happiness you will experience after doing this, you may just want to “thank” me for urging you do so.
Written By: Jon Webster