“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your many blessings name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” Can gratitude help millennials overcome blues?
I’ve sung this song so many times already that I’ve lost count. This pure, uplifting song teaches a very important lesson: gratitude can heal a disheartened soul. When I was younger, I truly wondered “Really? Can gratitude and being thankful in all things help me overcome my challenges?” I honestly could not understand it then. It all became meaningful to me when I grew up and became what the world calls a “millennial.”
Living in today’s world is both exciting and challenging. It is exciting because it seems as though the opportunities for success are limitless. With the recent improvements in technology, a fast paced world, and information right at our fingertips, it feels like there’s nothing you can’t do. Success seems to be just around the corner.
However, there is another side of the equation. The Huffington Post released an article entitled “ Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wait-but-why/generation-y-unhappy_b_3930620.html) which explained why the millennials of today are dissatisfied and depressed. The Philippine Daily Inquirer also produced an article that states that job dissatisfaction is high among millennials. (http://business.inquirer.net/206376/job-dissatisfaction-high-among-millennials)
Well, these two facts don’t seem to add up. How can a person living in such a great, promising time, still feel empty?
Despite personal achievements, how many of us still browse through our phones looking at the seemingly unattainable successes of our friends and feeling awful that we just can’t have that? How many of us can say that we do not yearn for the latest phone and gadget when everyone around us seems to have it all? How many of us look at our life as something inferior compared to those glamorous lives we see in social media?
I am a millennial, too, and this scenario strikes a chord. But thanks to the song I’ve been singing since I was young, I was able to snap out of my sad bubble, take a deep breath, and try once more to look at the wonderful things in my life with new eyes: eyes of gratitude. So I asked some of my millennial friends, as well, how gratitude helps them rise above the blues and here are some of their insightful answers:
- “Gratitude helps me see things in a different perspective.”
Carla, a 23 year-old bookkeeper says that being grateful for the things in her life made her see things positively. She said “I always tend to look at life in a material way. When I discovered that I was basing my confidence on things that I have, and eventually felt miserable because I can’t have it all, that’s when I knew I had to change my ways. I tended to spend my savings to buy stuff that would validate me as better than the rest. But right now, being grateful made me exercise more self-discipline. I now know what I truly need and being grateful helps me eliminate unnecessary wants.”
- “Gratitude makes me realize that I am also blessed.”
Lily, a young wife and work-at-home mom felt like she had been deprived of self-improvement because of her decision to raise her child full time. “However, through it all, whenever I look at my child, a sense of gratitude fills my heart. Yes, I might be missing the chance to earn advanced degrees, but I am entrusted with this privilege of raising a wonderful daughter. Being grateful for simple blessings helps me feel that like my other friends, I can also use the hashtag #feelingblessed.”
- “Gratitude actually makes me appreciate my seemingly more successful friends.”
“It’s true that comparisons are indeed the root of all unhappiness,” says Charlie, a call-center agent. “But you always have the choice to be thankful for what you have become. And by being thankful, you appreciate your friends who are successful in their own way. They now inspire me to work hard and be better than who I am now.”
- “Gratitude helps me overcome the need to compare.”
Daryl always felt that his dissatisfaction rooted from his constant need to compare his life to others. “It made me feel really dissatisfied with my life whenever I compared because I always saw my friends going on vacations, friends getting married, friends who seemed to figure it out. It made me feel less blessed. But when I count my blessings, my need to compare diminishes. I come to realize that we are given different blessings, and appreciation for these things can bring happiness and satisfaction.”
- “Gratitude reminds me what success truly means.”
To the world, success can have a different meaning. “Social media has defined success in such a different way now. To others, success can mean having expensive stuff, going places, or achieving back-to-back degrees. That indirect representation of success can sometimes discourage a young person like me. But if you exercise gratitude, you will see that success isn’t limited to those things. In fact, success can also come through good deeds, through touching another person’s life, through helping other people. The world may see my efforts as insignificant, but looking outward is one of the successes that truly gives me lasting joy,” an HR officer, Joy, gave her answer with a big smiley emoticon.
Hearing these answers from my young friends adds up to my testimony that indeed, counting our blessings and expressing gratitude for the simple things in our lives can help us overcome the sadness, depression, and the dissatisfaction so rampant in this modern world.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf so perfectly put into words this truth:
“Never stop striving for the best that is within you. Never stop hoping for all of the righteous desires of your heart. But don’t close your eyes and hearts to the simple and elegant beauties of each day’s ordinary moments that make up a rich, well-lived life.
The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments. They are the ones who, thread by daily thread, weave a tapestry of gratitude and wonder throughout their lives. These are they who are truly happy.” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/forget-me-not?lang=eng)
May we always appreciate the small but bountiful blessings that come into our lives. Happiness can be ours as we strive to look at life with eyes of gratitude.