We All Want What We Don't Have: 8 Secrets To Staying Grateful

Have you ever taken inventory on the people in your life? I know that sounds a little hollow, but what I mean is, have you ever taken a step back and tried to find a pattern, or a common thread, in the people you surround yourself with?

They say we are a combination of the five people we spend the most time with, and I’ve always believed there’s something to be said for a woman with a solid group of girlfriends.

Often, if I, myself, am “taking inventory,” I find I am most drawn to people full of gratitude. It’s easy to find people who grumble, doubt or believe they don’t have “enough.”

But it’s rare -- in fact, it’s near impossible -- to meet someone who truly values what he or she has. He or she might complain; we all have our moments, but at the end of each day, grievances succumb to gratitude.

I don’t think there could be a more beautiful quality in a human being than gratitude. It’s refreshing, uplifting and something I’m humbled to be around.

Given that I’ve been blessed enough to meet a few of these grateful ones, I’ve picked up on their secrets to this form of optimism. It’s something I think we could all learn from, so here are eight tips:

1. Comparison is for the birds.

I rarely hear my appreciative girlfriends comparing themselves, or what they have, to someone else. It’s wasted energy to wish to have something that simply is not ours.

That doesn’t mean we can’t secretly hate on Nancy Juvonen for being Jimmy Fallon’s wife, but that’s the exception.

2. Every pity party must come to an end.

We all have those days, where we just need to LET. IT. OUT.

I’m all about it, but my mom used to tell me, “Have your pity party, just make sure you pack it up when it’s over.” It’s hard, I know. But the pity will only get you so far, and it really doesn’t solve anything you’re worried about.

3. Keep the bigger picture in mind.

Having a bad day doesn’t mean you’re having a bad life. Sometimes, I think back on how lucky I’ve been to have so many moments of butterflies, so many holidays and so many joys.

We can’t let our minutes of misery take away from that.

4. At least I have ________.

I know how annoying it can be when all you want to do is criticize the douchebag from work, and then someone chimes in: “At least you have a job!” It’s not what we want to hear, especially when we’re trying to confine ourselves to a good old-fashioned vent session.

But, sometimes, it’s what we need to hear.

If I spent all of my time wallowing in the problems instead of reminding myself of the “at leasts,” I’d be a very sad little puppet.

5. Put the work into positivity.

It takes just as much work to be happy as it does to be miserable. Seriously, all of those times you want to point out what’s wrong in a situation, you could, instead, be recognizing what’s right.

I know it’s cheesy, but I’m good at cheesy, and I’m grateful for it.

6. Get excited about the little things.

You know that excitement you feel when you take your favorite comforter out of the dryer and wrap it around you? Or when Mum-Mum makes her all-time famous cookies?

How about when a song you love comes on the radio? I still scream when I see my name on a cast list, or even when my roommate opts for champagne instead of wine.

Let yourself feel those joys; I mean really feel them. Even if it seems silly, don’t bottle it in. That excitement is your soul’s way of expressing gratitude.

7. Turn the tables.

When someone does a favor for me, instead of simply expecting it and moving on, I remind myself just how selfless that was of him or her.

We all have busy lives and tight budgets. When you really take the time to think of how that person went out of his or her way to help you, or just to be there, you can’t help but feel your heart overflow with gratitude.

People can really be lovely.

8. Say prayers of thanks.

I once read, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough,” and it changed the way I think.

It’s like the end of "It’s A Wonderful Life" when a previously humdrum George Bailey doesn’t seem to mind there’s a warrant out for his arrest; he’s just happy to be in his hometown with his family.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the things we want, stuck in the things we lost or may never have. But what about the things we do have? The people we have? The gifts we’ve been given right in front of us?

I bet if we spent more time appreciating those things and saying prayers of thanks, being grateful, maybe everything else would seem a little less important.