A close friend said I was wrong: one cannot be both grateful and unhappy. I thought for a minute. Then he said, “if you’re not happy, you are not experiencing the fullness of grateful.”
I appreciated his statement. We defined terms: happiness vs joy. Some see those two terms as synonyms, I do not. But his point remained. What is the fullness of grateful?
The word gratitude instantly reminds me of the gospel song, Be Grateful by Walter Hawkins. This was one of my favorite songs. As much as I admire the song, it starts off very melancholy. One should be grateful because things could always be worse and our hardships bring us closer to God. While both statements are true that song does not prompt in me feelings of happiness. That song prompts in me a serious feeling sprinkled with some hope. One that says things are not as I want them to be but I won’t complain because I know it will be alright in the end.
That song definitely leads me to feel that I can be grateful even if I’m not happy with my circumstance. The promise that it will be alright gives hope. I think this is the vantage point I was coming from in my Gratitude post.
However, today when I think about gratitude I have a different feeling than the one that song gave. When I make a gratitude list, I’ve noticed that the things I list immediately put a smile on my face. I am happy while making the list. I feel joy and peace. Some of the things listed make me laugh. When I was writing the Gratitude post, I said one can be grateful without being happy before I made my gratitude list. I’m grateful I left that statement in because it sparked this discussion, which prompted me to analyze gratitude much more deeply. The importance of gratitude is often understated.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the importance of how things and people make you feel. I also think that we have more control over our feelings than we realize. There are things one can do to feel better, such as making a daily gratitude list. And it stands to reason that if gratitude list can improve your state of being, then it seems mighty challenging to be both, grateful and unhappy.
For me, the fullness of grateful includes the peace and joy embodied in whatever it is that has moved me to give thanks. After I give thanks for what I have, I find it easy to surrender. I think surrender is another one of those words like gratitude. When one surrenders in a battle, one may do so with great pain and angst. But in the spiritual realm, there should be a calmness to surrender; a peace to surrendering. My daily gratitude list helps me to surrender peacefully with an assurance that everything will work out for my good. I have joy and peace. And yes I am happy when I surrender.
I am grateful for my friend and I stand corrected. One cannot be both grateful and unhappy; not if one is truly basking in the glory of gratitude.