From a very early age, we are taught happiness is the key to life. From that day forward, all we are ever really doing is searching for that key.
Sometimes we think we've found it, other times it couldn't feel further away. As we age, this never changes. We merely find new strategies and look in new places.
This search keeps us very busy.
We try to earn money in a way that aids this mission, but when in doubt, we continue to earn it in any way possible, as it allows us to seek out other avenues. We go to school, we do physical activity, we get our groceries.
We go on adventures, we meet new people, we fall in love, we make new generations.
The one thing most of us forget to do is stop.
We need to stop, breathe and be thankful for the fact our lives are filled with all of these things and people. We forget to be grateful, so here is a reminder of three things you you should never take for granted:
1. Access to education
Today alone, I thought to myself several times that life sucked.
I had an assignment and a midterm due, and I was exhausted. After hours in the library, all I wanted to do was go home and curl up in my bed with a nice warm tea.
However, what I forgot to remember is just how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to be able to attend a university — not to mention, to be in a program I love, learning about things I enjoy.
2. Your health
I get a minuscule little cold and I instantly turn into the world's biggest grump. I complain to everyone around me, I make a huge deal out of simply getting out of bed in the morning — and that is only if I get out of bed.
Yet, there are people out there fighting for their lives. There are people out there who get out of bed with no complaints even though they face immense physical or mental pain every single day. Think about them the next time your chicken noodle soup isn't up to par.
3. Your voice
Millions of people around the world live in complete and utter silence. They are told their voices don't matter and no one will hear them.
Next time you speak out about politics — regardless of your opinion — or tell someone you disagree with him or her, remember not everyone has that luxury.
Next time you share something on Facebook or cry in a loved one's arms, remember not everyone is able to do so.
All of those actions consist of you expressing yourself freely. Do not forget how precious of a gift that is.
I'm not saying these things to make you feel guilty or to say you don't have the right to be sad. That is not at all what I mean.
We need to stop, breathe and be thankful.
What I do mean is that in the world we live in, you always have the choice to see your glass as half empty or half full. You always have the choice to be grateful for what you have and to keep in mind those less fortunate.
Happiness is not a destination — the key doesn't open a door to a life without sadness. The key is merely a reminder of what direction to go in and who should come along with us.
This is just a reminder to be grateful for this process and this journey. Remember: Not everyone got quite so lucky.
This article originally appeared on Unwritten.