Human beings have a knee-jerk tendency to scan for what’s not working, from a slow-moving line at the grocery store to a rut in a relationship, so it’s easy to notice when things haven’t gone our way in a while.
But what if we shifted our attention a fraction — toward what hasn’t gone wrong?
This short animation from School of Life suggests it’s often the small moments in life (e.g. my car didn’t break down) that bring us the most joy and stoke our well-being.
Celebrate what’s going right, right now
Falling victim to wants and insecurities is human nature — it’s what happens when you look at what other people have that you do not, and begin to make comparisons. You may wish that you had a bigger house, or nicer hair, or that you could travel more, or get a promotion at work.
“A standard habit of mind is to take careful note of what’s not right in our lives and and obsess about all that’s missing,” the narrator notes.
However, fixating on all the things you feel you lack can cause you to miss out on noticing what it is you already have. By taking a moment to pause, you can give yourself the opportunity to notice, acknowledge, and feel grateful for the things in your life that have not gone wrong.
By taking a moment to pause, you can give yourself the opportunity to notice, acknowledge, and feel grateful for the things in your life that have not gone wrong.
The video lists some suggestions: “The house is looking beautiful at the moment, we’re in pretty good health all things considered, the afternoon sun is deeply reassuring, sometimes the children are kind, our partner is—at points—very generous…”
You’ll age with grace—and gratitude
The video notes that gratitude is an emotion that flourishes as you age.
“It is extremely rare to delight in flowers, or a quiet evening at home, a cup of tea or a walk in the woods, when one is under 22,” the narrator says. “There are so many larger, grander, things to be concerned about: romantic love, career fulfillment, and political change.”
However, as time wears on, almost everyone faces setbacks — careers shift, relationships crumble, and even your strongest personal beliefs are challenged. Amidst times of failure and uncertainty, you begin to have a greater appreciation for life’s small victories.
Gratitude is an emotion that flourishes as you age.
“Little things start to seem somewhat different,” the narrator says. “No longer a petty distraction from a mighty destiny, no longer an insult to ambition, but a genuine pleasure amidst a litany of troubles, an invitation to bracket anxieties and keep self-criticism at bay.”
The video describes the experience of gratitude as a small resting place for hope in our busy and sometimes stressful lives.
“We appreciate the slice of toast, the friendly encounter, the long hot breath, the spring moment, and properly keep in mind how much worse it could, and probably will, one day be.”