"The Opposite Of Unhappiness Is Gratitude.  Unhappiness is about 'what is missing'.  Ironically, we are stuck in grandiose expectations, when the truth is that we have so much.  We occasionally give back some of our gains, but those are not losses - they are lessened gains.  'Get' the difference, and you'll have  a whole new world of perception - and happiness, no matter what."

                                                                    The BuddhaKahuna

One of the four essentials for happiness is to:  Look/See What IS There, as opposed to "what is missing". 

We set artificial standards and then we fall short of them and the illusion of “loss” is created.  But if you have more, net, than you had much earlier, are you really experiencing a loss or just less of a net gain?  It all depends on your perspective.  (See the discussion following the charts.)

Happy people are grateful.  Therefore, if I want to be happier, I might just do some gratitude work - no, not just do "some", for I've done that before, and it was not sufficient, though "nice".  This time I needed to complete the process, so it is installed and a part of me, where I master it and "get it" at the level of "grokking" it.   I might actually “look” and see what I can be grateful for.  (Read and learn all about Gratitude.)

"There's already enough, right here and right now, for you to be happy."

                                                            Thomas Bien, The Buddha's Way Of Happiness 

To help myself see that, I looked at and adjusted my baseline above which to be happy:  My Adjusted Baseline.

Review these charts, and then see the followup discussion for more comments.


Life in this chart goes from left to right.  There is of course many more items to be added and a few that diminish, but the net gain is as high as a good sized office building!  Once in a while we lose an antennae on top or even an air conditioning unit, but we still have the major gains and need not obsess over the seemingly big loss - which truly is trivial, relative to all that is.  We may even lose a floor, which is not good!   But we still have so much by comparison! 

                          ↗                         ↘     Loss? (or simply less of a gain) - A "so what"?
       ______↗     Accumulated
       /                                                         Relative size of what is added: A "floor" or two
     /                                                           (All good, but what we are given is uncomparable.)  
  /  Learned


Take a few sheets and head them up with these titles and then fill them out as fast as you can, coming back later to add to them.  Keep them for reference for your gratitude exercises and a part of your Positives Portfolio.


We are given so incredibly much to begin with (see Gratitude For The Basics Of Life). 

The perfect combination of chemicals (carbons, hydrogen, etc.) and the perfect conditions had to come together even to create life. 

And then over time evolution created a magnificent automatic body that does an incredible number of things, with incredible defense systems, with the ability to take a lot of abuse – and the greatest computer in the universe

The chances that we would even be born were miniscule.  We have given to us, and largely unlosable, 1,000’s of gifts.  Those are in the huge box (above) that is many stories high.

On the top of the huge box, running from left to right and representing time, we add very little, in proportion - almost everything is already there - and is more than enough! 

But much of what we add is also 'permanent' and not subject to loss, so that our accumulation of gains gets even greater

We don’t lose our knowledge, what we learn, certain adaptive functions that we programmed in. 

We do, however, have some things we can gain and then lose – money, a loved one, etc.  But we don’t lose all we gain, so we get to keep much of it as permanent - and then we are even further ahead as we add much more than we lose.  In perspective, even what seems like a big loss is very small by comparison.  Yes, our "losses" [or problems], as Richard Carlson writes in his famous book, are all "small stuff" - and we needn't waste our energy or our lives in suffering about it - just "don't sweat the small stuff - and it's all small stuff."

Yes, we lose a little bit of some of our gains, but the net (gains minus losses) is still a gain.  We are never at a deficit - and always way, way, way ahead - invulnerable all our lives. 
I didn't know that my predictions of future consequences were dramatically exaggerated to the negative, as evolution was happy to err on the safe side. 

I didn't know that we dramatically underestimate how well we adjust and/or how soon the "bad" effects wear off and even disappear from our minds. 

I didn't have the perspective gained from knowing that lottery winners and recent paraplegics came back within a year to their original happiness level.  I just didn't know that.  I didn't see it. 

So I "made up" lots of "big" consequences that turned out to be "small stuff" - and I wasted my fear signals and activated my stress system for no benefit and some harm - certainly harmed my enjoyment of the moment...and of a large part of my life. 

I didn't know that I could be Fearless - and be happy no matter what.

One of the best examples, though there are plenty of other good ones in Bad Past, Good Life is
W. Mitchell, burnt badly (face, etc.) in a motorcycle accident, and then crippled in an airplane crash, but now he is a motivational speaker (and he ran for mayor on the basis of "not just another pretty face".)

His most famous quote: "Before I was paralyzed there were 10,000 things I could do. Now there are 9,000. I can either dwell on the 1,000 I've lost or focus on the 9,000 I have left.

That is worth remembering - indelibly.

Additional discussion to help to really "grok" this is Understanding And "Getting" The Mountain I Have Vs. What I Am Missing.
The Mountain: (See What I Have That I Am Given - My Incredible Base.)

(Relative size:  the size of the Empire State Building)

Addt’l                      / \____/ \                   _______/\ ok?  Still a "net" gain?
          / \___          /                \___          /
        /  loss? \___/               Loss? \____/
HAVE, NOT LOSABLE. ("The unlosable base" during our lifetimes, which we often don’t “see"):

Just a start:  [See also What To Be Grateful For, Examples, Categories.]

Good weather, ability to get from one location to another,
Able to experience, able to support self, able to write, able to cook and do things, grocery stores set up for me to get everything, government to run things, access and benefit of incredible technology, fun stuff
Alive, magnificent automatic body that does an incredible number of things, with incredible defense system, with the ability to take a lot of abuse, the greatest computer in the universe, ambulatory, eyes, body, breathing, able to appreciate, able to think, able to learn, seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, touching, smelling, thinking
Ability to rest, relax, smile, drink water; enjoy flowers, beaches, hiking trails, sun, spectacular moutains, lush meadows, lakes, beautiful trees, clouds, sky, and on and on and on
Have (but often don’t see), which I’ve added but are pretty much going to not likely to be lost:

Examples:  What I've learned, my basic abilities, ability to have sufficient shelter and food, books to read, a bed to sleep in

Gratitude Contents/Links 

Understanding And "Getting" The Mountain I Have Vs. What I Am Missing - Further thinking to nail down this reality.

What I Have That I Am Given - My Incredible Base - A big listing, but partial, of all I have been given, not even counting what I've added.  An essential perspective.

What Is Enough? - A question you must answer for yourself.  Your happiness depends on it.

My Adjusted Baseline.- Deciding really, for me, what is enough!
Gratitude For The Basics Of Life - A "poem" of sorts.
Why Are Monks So Happy?
- Part of your essential understanding and perspective, to see why you can always be happy, if you do the simple basics. 

The Positives Portfolio - Nailing down what there IS, what I have, for sure, clearly, definitively...

What To Be Grateful For, Examples, Categories  

Fearless - Be happy no matter what.

Ultimate Confidence 
Bad Past, Good Life - The consequences aren't as bad as we predict, plus we handle it so much better than we thought.