Gratitude – The Essence of True Happiness
by Jean Luo

Thanksgiving is always special to me. Every year in the morning of Thanksgiving, I get up early and sit quietly on the sofa in the living room and meditate on the countless blessings that life has given me throughout the year. I give thanks to whatever I have gone through or experienced throughout the year regardless whether it was an easy or difficult time. I give thanks and treasure everyone in my life that I have met who has provided me the myriad of learning opportunities on my life journey. I also give thanks to those in the world of spirit, especially Margaret, Maitreya, Sister Aurora and my guardian spirit, for guiding me, supporting me, and giving me unconditional love all the time. They are the true heroes in my life indeed.

Although life is often not as blissful or smooth as we would like it to be, as it is often filled with challenges, obstacles, hardships, ups, downs, tests, trials, especially this year due to the global pandemic, we need to be grateful for all the learning opportunities it provides to us. Along with the challenges, hardships, tears and struggles, life can be filled with many moments of laughter, joy, and happiness as we embrace these challenges, hardships, and obstacles that life presents to us. Strive to count the blessings that we are still alive, we still have food on the table and a warm home to comfort us. We are still healthy, and we still have loved ones and friends around the world to love each other and genuinely care about each other, we know in our heart how lucky and blessed we are.

Of course, we often do not always get what we want, but we definitely get what we need, whether it is for ‘better’ or for ‘worse’. No matter what has happened in our life and how hard our life may seem to be, we are where we need to be at this moment of our journey. With each step, every twist and turn of life, through the people we meet, the circumstances we are in, the situations and incidents we experience, the challenges we face and the changes we need to make, we are constantly learning to experience the full spectrum of life. Riding with its flow, we are achieving an understanding for the meaning and purpose of life. We are growing in Spirit and consciousness through the learning experiences created from everything and everyone in our life.

Simple and sincere gratitude will certainly change our attitude towards our life, and it will lead us to happiness. Remember, happy does not need to be anything sophisticated, just an open heart. It is much easier to give thanks when we are happy and when our life is comfortable and stable, free of challenge and struggle. It is much harder to be grateful and to have gratitude when we are going through hardship, difficulties, pain, challenge, and emotional turmoil. When we are experiencing testing, trial, facing the unknown and seemly having no hope, that is when we are forced to move out of our comfort zone and make change. However, when we are not grateful, we can easily be sucked into a dark hole and become negative, depressive, hopeless and helpless, such a mental and emotional state of being can easily drag us down and create self-sabotage and self-destruction, we then will be gradually lost in the illusion of life, never able to find the happiness we are rightfully meant to have. It takes courage to recognize that most of us have made our own life more difficult and complicated. Chasing life or escaping life, instead of living life, often exhausts us, makes us suffer and more miserable, and prevents us from seeing the beauty of life, thus it will inhibit us from enjoying all that life has to offer to its fullest.

Gratitude is one of the key attributes of an open heart. When our heart is open, we embrace life as it is with total acceptance, rather than expecting what it should be. Gratitude reminds us of what really matters and what is most important in our life. It provides the mindset and perspective to go beyond the illusion of whatever living situation we are dealing with and see the real reason, cause, big picture and true purpose of the people, events and incidents we are facing. Gratitude allows us to recognize the challenges and difficulties we have been going through as valuable life lessons we have chosen to experience and to learn from for our own soul growth. Having gratitude helps us forgive people and events that we feel have hurt and wounded us. It will enable us to let go of our anger and bitterness, and to appreciate the people, situations, and happenings in our life. Gratitude is also a source to enable us to cultivate strength and wisdom. As we appreciate whatever happens in our life with total acceptance, we can see through the illusion of life in its many disguises with much more clarity, it will then enable us to reach the state of “a total peace that passes all understanding.” It will not come overnight, however, as we allow ourselves to cultivate the gratitude, we will take this journey and process of soul growth more directly.

Thus, with gratitude we are grateful for everything that we have, and everything that we do not have; we appreciate everything that has happened on our life journey and everyone who is in our life. With gratitude we accept all the challenges, hardships and difficulties as great opportunities being presented to us to learn valuable life lessons, thus, we gain deep understanding and strength through our struggles and pain, and we find the inner strength to persevere and rise above the suffering. With gratitude we become grateful that we have been able to learn from all our life experiences. With gratitude we can forgive being hurt and ‘mistreated’, we can let go of anger, bitterness, grudges, and all other ‘negative’ emotions, and appreciate everyone and everything in our life. Gratitude enables us to have total acceptance, understanding, respect, tolerance, compassion, and humility.

More than anything, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to have gratitude towards ourselves. When we are genuinely grateful for what we are and who we are, we begin truly accepting and loving ourselves unconditionally. Only when we can truly appreciate and love ourselves as who we are, regardless of our self-perceived imperfections, flaws, and mistakes, can we truly stop judging and criticizing others, and love others unconditionally.

It does not take a lot for us to thank and appreciate those in our life. We just need to keep reminding ourselves that everything and everyone around us is a mirror reflecting what resides deep within ourselves. Their annoyance is teaching us patience. Their anger is teaching us forgiveness and compassion. Their control is teaching us to take our power back. As they invoke our fear, it is training us to let go of what we fear to lose. Their agitation is teaching us detachment. Instead of feeling hate, turn that hate into love. Thank the person for being there to help you. If the above situation happens in your life, try transforming your anger, resentment, bitterness, and all other ‘negative’ emotions into gratitude. Replace your feelings of being hurt, pain, suffering, complaining, blaming, anger and hatred, with thanks, appreciation, and love for the opportunities that you have been given to grow and learn. With gratitude, we all can become such a beautiful and great soul.