We have all heard the metaphorical question "What comes first, the chicken or the egg?", when considering the origin of something. Last week I read a quote by David Steindl-Rast that reminded me of this question. His quote was "Happiness is not what makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy".
I just love this statement and wholeheartedly and whole-soully (I made that word up) agree. When we take the time to be still, and quiet the chatter in our minds, we open the door to peace. Once we enter through this door, we find much to be grateful for. By simply allowing ourselves to fully and unequivocally feel gratitude, we cannot help but feel happy. If we maintain this feeling, it soon turns to joy.
So what if you don't see much in your life to be grateful for? My suggestion is to look again and more deeply. If we assess our lives only by their outward appearance, seeing only the difficulties and the challenges, then we may be left without gratitude, but with varying degrees of sadness and disappointment.
If we, on the other hand, look beyond the situations of our life (since they are not who we are), then we will see much that may not be fully appreciated. This deeper look within is likely to eventually direct you to gratitude for your life, for the opportunity and ability to create change, for your ability to choose and for your resiliency. Being grateful for having your family, a home, food to eat and friends that support you are also great places to focus.
Looking yet deeper for that which fosters gratitude may take you to the heart of you. The part of you that is grateful to love or be loved. Perhaps your many gifts will float by in your mind in this deeper level of awareness. This is where your gratitude for being you may grow. Whatever the route you take regarding gratitude, the qualities of your spiritual self will always be there to be grateful for.
I practice being grateful on a daily basis and often make a gratitude list in my journal. Surprisingly, they are typically little things that when I am truly present to them, grow in importance. For instance, today as I sat in my living room looking out the window, I watched a beautiful snowfall. I was so grateful for living in a part of the country where it snows. I felt gratitude for having the time to stop and watch it snow. The longer those good feelings flowed, the happier I felt.
So to answer the question, what comes first, without a doubt in my mind, the chicken (gratitude) comes first and the egg (happiness) always follows.
The source of the quote came from a daily email I receive from a favorite website, www. gratefulness.org.