If our religion is based on salvation, our chief emotions will be fear and trembling. If it is based on wonder, our chief emotion will be gratitude.

This quote is based on the premise that gratitude is an essential aspect of life. There is a lot of literature out there that promotes the idea of being grateful for all that we experience in life. Perhaps one of the most recent and popular books, and subsequent movie, was “Eat, Pray, Love”. This book, as with much other literature on the subject, supports the idea that being grateful for what you have is the best path to happiness. If you look at the world’s religions, you will find that message of gratitude is quite prominent. Yet in our modern, frantic, materialistic world gratitude is often overlooked.

The message of gratitude is that, instead of fighting against our inability to achieve unrealistic, materialistic goals in our life, we should instead be mindful of the many things we have to be grateful for. To understand that every day, in myriad ways, there is much to be grateful for. That stopping to acknowledge those moments and be grateful for them builds up a sense of the positive things in life. It also helps to turn our attention to what is important in life, rather than the often unattainable material things of life. There is also a message to look back at those disastrous moments and acknowledge the positive impact their aftermath has had on our lives. Even the act of just surviving a bad experience has a positive impact because you cannot survive a bad experience and not become stronger.

Many people choose to write gratitude journals, or challenge themselves to write a gratitude post on social media daily for a period of time. The people I know who have done this find it improves their sense of satisfaction and happiness with life. They find their focus switches to what they really value: family, friends and enjoying life. Their focus switches away from the pursuit of money, possessions and power. They also reported the realisation that the goals of earning big money, owning expensive things and holding a powerful position were empty goals that brought stress and fear, not satisfaction and happiness.

So the message of Jung is to stop and notice the things in life to be grateful for. Stop and smell that sweet perfumed rose. Stop and take joy in watching that gorgeous toddler play. Stop and admire the antics of a tiny puppy. Stop and be enthralled by the colours of the sunset. Stop and watch the amazing clouds in the sky. Stop and enjoy the sun as you sit on the beach and listen to the waves rising and falling. Stop and think about how great it is to be enjoying a conversation with friends. The list is endless.

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