Recently I listened to an NPR podcast episode about a man who is a Jewish atheist but decided to spend 1 year following everything in the bible as closely as possible. He calls it “the year he spent living biblically”.
You can listen to the Ted talk from him here:
He talks about how in the bible you should be grateful for everything. He gives the example of being grateful that when you get in an elevator, it works. He says that during his 1 year experiment this was the thing that really made him happy and he found the most beneficial. Instead of just focusing on the few bad things that happened during the day, to instead focus on all the things that went right that day.
Right now they are doing construction right outside of my apartment. They are putting in new concrete and they are making a ton of noise. For the past few days I have been a bit annoyed at getting woken up by this noise. But today I decided to try thinking about all the things there were going right. My floor didn’t collapse. Water comes up of my faucet when I turn it on. I have food to eat.
Throughout my childhood life I have had my parents and step parents telling me to just “be grateful” and “you’re lucky to have a roof over your head and food to eat. Many people in the world don’t even have that.” I have to admit that being told this put a really bad taste in my mouth. I don’t like being told how to feel.
Instead of focusing on “I should be grateful” thinking, I have been focusing on “I am actually really happy that my floor didn’t collapse” or “I am happy to not be in a hospital right now” thinking. All the time. Doing this actually makes me really happy. No longer do I care even the slightest about the construction outside. I am just so grateful about all the things that are going right for me.
This change in thinking has really worked for me. I am enjoying being happy. It almost feel nice to not have to worry about getting upset the next time something annoys me.
If you have also had someone try and tell you how to feel, then try giving this idea a new chance. It’s really amazing the power that it has.
Update: I would like to add that it is also important to not feel entitled. Entitlement only leads to dissatisfaction. Annoyance can lead to entitlement, but only feeling grateful will make you happy in the end.