How gratitude makes us happy

Robert Labayen

Posted at Jul 15 2019 09:20 PM

Illustration by Robert Labayen

When I am beginning to feel a lack in my life, I would recall the movie "33."

It’s the true-to-life drama about 33 Chilean miners trapped for 69 days in a dark and hot mining cave several meters underground. In the first few weeks, they had absolutely no contact with the outside world. They survived on one piece of cookie and a sip of milk for each day.

All of them lived to tell the tale!

I think of this film and tell myself: “I’m not buried in a cave! I can move, I can be with people I love, I can roam the world, I can eat the food that I like, I can pursue my dreams, I have reason to hope, I can use Facebook!" In my mind I will be laughing, jumping, spinning and thanking God.

If we were stuck in a cave for who knows how long, our only wish will be to get out and ask nothing more from life. It’s a good thought to have when we’re hurt, scared or when funds are low.

I don’t just feel luckier than those 33 during their ordeal. I also admire their courage to hold on.

Without belittling the pain you are feeling now, I hope that your soul can be somehow soothed by thinking of the things God has given us.

Shawn Achor, in the book "The Happiness Advantage," recommended the use of “counterfacts.” These are alternate scenarios to evaluate whatever has just occurred. For example, if a person was hit by a stray bullet, he could feel bad, or he could be thankful that he was shot in the arm and not in the head.

Dr. Emma Sepalla, in the book "The Happiness Track," said that an effective way to start feeling happy is to be grateful. She noted that gratitude makes us focus on what we have instead of what we lack.

Psychology professor Barbara Fredrickson, in "Positivity," advised that we should end the day feeling grateful for happy events in our lives. These could be memories from as far back as childhood, or any event during the day.

Shawn Achor said that among the happy events of the day could be a joke that made us laugh.

Preacher Joel Osteen told the story of a friend who lost both his legs after being sideswiped by a car while standing on the roadside. When Osteen visited him in the hospital, the friend was in a cheerful mood. When he asked why he felt that way, the guy replied “I feel lucky. I could have been dead if I was six inches more into the road!"

We don’t even need to lose a limb to feel grateful.

I understand some hurts may be too much they are beyond consolation.

In which case, I pray that you find solace in Jesus’ promise:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 13:28)

“My grace is all you need, my power works best in weakness…”
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

“This is the day that Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)


About the Author:

Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.