Photo Credit: criswatk,

We must be happy with what we have while in pursuit of what we want.
-Benjamin Franklin

When I let my imagination walk into some squeaky direction, I always got these ideals or conditions for me to be “truly happy”:

  • When I’m finally a bestselling author.
  • When I’m finally financially free.
  • When I finally have my own family.
  • When I finally don’t have to do work that I don’t like (repetitive administrative tasks or any uncreative activities).
  • When I finally crossed half of my bucket list.
It’s easy to be ungrateful and even miserable if we’re intentionally blinding ourselves to the grace we’re receiving everyday. If we always gaze back in the past for the bad things that cannot be changed or dread the future by worrying if we would have the things we want, then happiness would always evade us - because happiness is only available in the present moment, right here, right now.

Yes, I’m sure that we would be in bliss when our ideals become realities. But spending our lives wrapped in worry and longing is a terrible habit, because that’s when the feeling of “I’m incomplete” creeps in. Is gratefulness only sprout in us when we’re in the process of arriving, achieving or receiving? Could we not be happy right now while we’re feeling the wind of the journey?

Be Grateful. Always.

There’s an interesting shift that happens to those people who met a near-death experience - they become more grateful and intentional about their life. Why? Because what makes our life here on earth so precious is because it has an ending. And in that unfortunate moment of meeting death face to face, they saw how fortunate they are for simply being alive. Escaping death made them embrace life.

Psychologists have proven that grateful people are more effective in everything they do, because in their act of doing, they’re also actively living, and acknowledging the moment as a gift that can only be received in the present moment. They are not waiting for accomplishment to be happy. What psychologist found is that happiness comes first, then success later, not the other way around.

In the movie ‘The Ultimate Life’, Jason Stevens learned to create life’s golden list. The list is composed of the ten things you’re thankful for the day. After some hard circumstances, he came to the realization that urgent things are never worthy as replacements for the most important things in his life: his fianc√©e, his future family, his everything. He leaned into the high road and pursued his family, which is more important than his job or anything in his life.

I came to embrace the habit of writing golden list everyday, and it always helps me become more aware of the value of this gift called life. Here is my list for today:

  • People I care about
  • People who care about me
  • A fulfilling vocation as a teacher
  • The opportunity to share ideas through writing, and in some way, help and inspire others
  • Wisdom from books
  • Gift of time
  • Benefits from advanced technologies like PC and smartphone
  • Laughter
  • My present and future family
  • Love unfailing from God
What’s your life golden list for today? Get a journal, Evernote, Moleskin or even a piece of paper and write it down. Acknowledge the gifts, and always live grateful for them and for the Giver.

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
-Guillaume Apollinaire

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