There is a fundamental flaw in our search for happiness. We think that once we have what we want, we will be grateful and satisfied; but we can look around and see plenty of people who have enough to be thankful and aren’t. Gratitude does not come from satisfaction. Instead, the opposite is true. Being grateful will force us to interact with grace and become contented. Rather than looking for what you are missing as that final piece to happiness, be thankful for what you already have.
There is this part in the Seder, the Jewish meal of remembrance, called the Dayenu. The word Dayenu simply means: ‘it would have been enough.’ The way it goes is that they name of all of the things that God did for them in the Exodus, followed by ‘it would have been enough’:
If He had brought us out of Egypt | it would have been enough.
If He had executed justice upon the Egyptians and upon their gods | it would have been enough.
If He had given to us their wealth | it would have been enough.
If He had split the sea for us | it would have been enough.
If He had led us through on dry land | it would have been enough.
If He had provided for our needs in the wilderness for 40 years | it would have been enough.
If He had fed us manna | it would have been enough.
They do this song, not just because it has a good beat, but because it reinforces a fundamental truth: each one of these undeserved blessings would have been an amazing gift on its own, but when piled up, they tend to lose the marvel. When we are blessed beyond measure, we stop measuring it. In order to be happy, to truly find joy in what we have been given, we need to practice gratefulness. We need to get below the surface of expectations down to the core of what we deserve. Starting there, we can build up, one by one, all of the ways that God has poured out His grace on us. Only then will we find gratitude; only then will we be happy.
For more on this, check out this talk from Ann Voskamp // LINK