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hey friend, this birthday letter is 6 days late — and it is about gratitude

hello there,

if you know me well, you probably know that I, in general, do not care about my birthday; I’m not particularly happy or I’m not especially unhappy on my birthday.

It’s, for me, a day like any other even if with having closer friends, it changes a little bit since, well — they wish me a grand birthday or give me a little gift and are always a little more friendly. But, in general, it’s a day like any other for me and this year, nothing changed, it was a day that was quite classic and normal.

I take the time to think about a lot of things — you may know that I like personal development and I try to learn new things every day.

Daily, I try to test things and I try to think about a lot of topics and life in general. And today, I said to myself: “It’s the occasion, it’s my birthday and I want to share with you something that seems to me to be the most important of what I have learned over the past few years.”

When you see a statement like the one before this one, it looks like big introduction, but you’ll see that it’s not an exceptional thing, it’s not a thing where you think, “Wow, I never would have thought about this!”.

And the thing that I would like to share with you today — and it is one of the most important things to understand in your life — is that there is no point in thinking that happiness will come later; we must be happy today, now!

If you’d think a little about it, when we’re younger, we would look at older people and we say to ourselves, “I would like to be that age”. For example, you are eight years old and you say to yourself, “Wow, I wish I was ten years old, those who are ten years old, they are happier”, etc.

Then we get to age 10 and we say, “It would be really good when I go to high school”. When you’re in high school, you think, “Wow, when I go to college, it’ll be the best time of my life, it’ll be great.” And when you’re at university, you think, “When I get a job, it’ll be good because I’m going to make money.” And when you have your job, you think, “It’ll be great when I get married”. When you’re married, you think, “It’ll be cool when I have kids.” When we have children, we say to ourselves: “It’ll be cool when they’re older and I have a little bit of time for myself.”

And little by little, by dint of shifting happiness, by shifting the fact of having a happy life at whatever stage you are at, well, we end up not living at all.

So, even as it is very important to be aspiring, to learn every day, and seek improvement in one’s daily life, I think that it is still necessary to take pleasure in the present and say that we must be happy now.

This is not a new idea, there are plenty of authors who talk about it, we talk a little about it in different religions, it is written about it in lots of self-help books, etc., So I’m not inventing anything, but these past few years, I have personally realised this.

For two, three, maybe four years, I would focus on the present moment and say, “I’m happy now.” But that has not always been the case. I often shifted my happiness to tell myself, “I’ll be happy when I get to this next stage”. And I realise now that it was a mistake. We must be happy now, we have to focus on the present.

Most people have the impression that happiness is a final destination and they would have to do nothing to improve their lives when they get to that chapter. The idea is really to understand that you should be happy now, even as you strive to improve your life.

I try to be happy every day — I think I am — but that does not stop me from trying to improve myself to be even happier or to have more “achievements in life”.

So, it’s a state of mind to have. And for all those who are reading this, saying, “Yeah, but how do you do that?”. I have my method — I’ve written about it before — and it’s the method that works best for me to be happy and realise that I already have a good life.

It is to practice gratitude every day.

Gratitude is simply feeling lucky for something, saying, “Wow, I have this and it’s good!

That’s me on the left yh! And I took this picture with someone who brings me much happiness but I don’t have the explicit permission to put this up online so yh. Go figure!

It is becoming aware of the fact that we are lucky to have something; it is to value the things we have. And what I do nowadays is to write down every day three things for which I feel grateful. It can be everyday things like gratitude for being in good health and for a family that is in good health. It can be big things. It can be things related to technology or practical everyday things.

Like now, I feel grateful that someone invented the Internet and that I can learn everything in just a few moments. I feel grateful to have water, to have a roof, to be able to eat food from my new favourite eatery, Chez Christine (sidebar — you should try it).

You see, it’s very broad, but at the end of this exercise, you cannot be unhappy because you would realise that in fact, it’s hard to choose just three things to be grateful on the daily. It is hard because we have all — whatever our difficulties, whatever the ordeals that life has in store for us — we all have a lot of things for which we can feel gratitude, like things that I just quoted above, but there are plenty of others.

To be honest, when you do this exercise daily, you will realise that you are already happy.

On some days, I have moments of stress like everyone else, things that annoy me, disturb me or just make me sad. I do a little extra gratitude session where sometimes I sit five minutes, close my eyes, breathe quietly and just feel gratitude. It is impossible to be unhappy when one feels gratitude. So, often, when I have some type of negative emotion and I do a little gratitude session — we’ll call it that — emotions negative go away and I’d advise you to try this.

I leave you as I continue to celebrate my birthday. I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week.

PS: I wrote this on my birthday — which was last week Sunday!

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