“Such behaviour! People don’t want to praise their contemporaries whose lives they actually share, but hold great expectations for the praise of future generations – people they haven’t met or ever will! This is akin to being upset that past generations didn’t praise you.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.
Keeping a daily gratitude diary – writing down at the end of the day three things you are grateful for in your life that day – has been shown to have a marked effect on mental well-being. Recognising the good luck you have had today and the bad luck you have avoided helps us to settle down and realise that things could probably, in most cases, have been worse. When we are grateful for what we have, the tendency to yearn and pine for the things we haven’t got becomes less and less.
How about we apply the same to the acts of other people today? Give thanks for the bus driver who got you safely to your destination and was patient with the drivers who made the journey a little more frustrating. Be grateful for the person who was only doing their job when they emptied your black wheelie bin this morning. Imagine where you would be if that call centre operator had not answered your call.
The truth is that the course of our lives are determined by an indeterminate number of factors and influences. We cannot redesign the past nor define the future with any certainty, but we can all be grateful for what we have right now – if only in small part.