Do you realize that gratitude has been scientifically proven to fortify your immune system and make you more optimistic and happier as well as less isolated and less lonely? It’s true, and even though science has just caught up to this fact, the Buddhists have understood this for years.
Recently on a trip to Bhutan, my husband and I went to the Bumdra monastery and camped at over 11,000 feet. The air was clean and pure. The scenery was fabulous. Yet when the sun went down, all I could think about were my frozen feet and hands.
As we gathered around the fire, I just wanted to get into my sleeping bag and warm myself. The temperatures had dropped drastically. Any happiness I may have felt was gone thanks to my chattering teeth.
On the other hand, our guide seemed unbothered to the cold. He was wearing a Gho, a traditional knee-length robe that ties at the waist. Yet I was bundled in my down coat and freezing.
I asked him if he was cold. He said that he was grateful to be able to camp at this sacred spot.
I kept asking him, as I couldn’t really believe his answer. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around how he could not be bothered by this bone-chilling cold. Didn’t he need a warmer jacket? Didn’t he need a heater?
His reply humbled me: “Instead of focusing on what I don’t have, I focus on what I do. I am blessed to have a fire. I am blessed to have this job. I am blessed to have a tent, and I am blessed to have your company.”
I realized that he had just shared a very crucial secret to happiness. Focusing on our blessings allows you to celebrate the present moment and keep your focus on the good instead of the bad.
I started to truly focus on the stars, which cannot really be enjoyed living in a city that blocks the light. I started to truly listen to this wise man and enjoy his stories.