The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

Today's Resolution: Feel Grateful for the Basics

I've been struggling with a very unstable computer...

For the last few days, I've been struggling with a very unstable computer (yes, this is apparently a technical term).

It seems to be behaving itself now, and I am so happy! I take my word-processor, my email, and my internet access for granted, but when they aren't available as easily as usual, I realize how much these tools add to my happiness and how much they contribute to my ability to work easily and smoothly.

One of the unhappy truths about human nature is that it's hard for us to appreciate what we have, until we lose it. When we lose something like electricity or running water, or worse, our health, then it's clear how mightily such things contribute to happiness and comfort.

In college, a friend told me about the “Lost Wallet Syndrome.” “No matter what’s happening in your life," he explained, "if you lose your wallet, you think, ‘How happy I would be if I would only find my wallet.’ But then, if you find it, you’re happy for about two minutes, and then you’re right back where you started.”

One of my aims with my happiness project is to appreciate what I have, while I still have it. I don't want to look back, after some loss or some catastrophe, and think, "How happy I was then, if only I'd realized it."

I have so much to be grateful for that it seems a bit preposterous that I need to remind myself to be grateful—but I do. When things are taking their ordinary course, it’s so easy to take everyday life for granted.

Every time I sit down at my computer, I think, "How happy I am to be back at my computer, doing the work I love." Now I've added a second part, "How happy I am to be at my computer, doing the work I love, on a computer that's working properly."

Do you find it hard to remember to appreciate the basics? What strategies do you use to keep yourself in a grateful frame of mind?

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in —no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each 

● This week I had a very good time at lunch with Her Bad Mother—"Bad is the new good."

● If you're also looking for a good book, please consider The Happiness Project (can't resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller and on the bestseller list for more than a year, that's right, a year!).
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.
Watch the one-minute book video.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook.

Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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