Having Gratitude for Small Things Leads to a Happier Life


Reilly Schulz

Jamie Hessian, Managing Editor, Arts and Entertainment

As high school students, much of our lives are not under our control. Up to this point, our parents have chosen where we live, what school we go to, and how we live our lives. It is easy to feel like life happens to us, rather than seeing that we’re in control of our lives. So often, we wait for happiness to come to us. We think that once it’s the weekend, or summer, once we get good grades, or make that team, we will be happy. If only it were that simple.

Throughout high school, I’ve allowed my situation to dictate my mindset. I found that I was always reaching for something and telling myself everything would be perfect once I got it. Each school year would come to a close, then, before I knew it, the next one began. It felt like high school would last forever and became awfully monotonous. With each school day so similar to the one before it, it’s easy to wait impatiently for the end of the day, week, or year. However, as I come so close to graduating, I wish I would’ve learned to appreciate the little things earlier. I realized that getting through that difficult time did not magically bring me joy.

This is when I realized something; it was time to start appreciating every day. Nothing 

will ever be perfect, so why wait for happiness to fall on you? Why not take control? It is not an easy task, but it’s worth it. You’ve heard it before, but gratitude is truly the key to a happy life. When senior year began, I made a point to be grateful for something everyday. Even though it sounds cliché, it works. Even if you’re happy someone will always appear happier. Life will never be perfect. I now understand that situational happiness isn’t truly happiness, because once something changes, you aren’t as happy anymore. 

   I started being grateful for little things, every single day. For example, the sunset on my drive home, a kind gesture from a fellow student, an interaction with a teacher or friend, or just getting coffee before school. While all of these little things sound insignificant, they are what lead me to find more happiness in my life. After months of working to be grateful everyday and using small moments to find peace, I started to feel a difference. I needed to take control of my situation as best as I could and see the good in it. Even after a difficult day at school or work, I learned the importance of being grateful for the challenge and moving on. Dwelling on parts of my life that were lacking got me nowhere, but having gratitude for the little moments each day helped me to better my mental health. 

Most people today struggle with mental health to some degree. Most people, as I did, find 

complacency in being unhappy. I understand that some people struggle with this more severely and it is very difficult to change their mindset. However, a good step is to find something small to be grateful for. Gratitude really puts life into perspective. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, you learn to be thankful for what you do have. Someone will always have more than you, so it hardly makes sense to waste life away waiting for good to come your way. It’s important to set goals, but instead of seeing how far away it is, look at how far you’ve come. 

I spent far too long waiting for the weekend. It is helpful to have something to look forward to, but it isn’t everything. It is definitely a process. It isn’t magic; it takes serious effort, but it is worth it. The time to take control of your happiness and have gratitude is now. So what are you waiting for?