“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, it is gratefulness that makes us happy.” —David Steindl-Rast

With the recent protests and disapproval in our world, I asked our kids what they are grateful for. My favorite answer was “you take us to the batting cages.” At first, I thought this was a pretty simple question and expected simple answers.   As we dove deeper into the subject, I realized how complex gratitude can be.

I realized the confusion that exists between gratitude and happiness. I would be willing to bet that many others are unclear as to how gratitude relates to happiness (I was). When we dug into it, we realized that gratitude leads to happiness. Many believe that when you are happy, you will be grateful. My family discovered that to be truly happy, you must first be grateful.

When they asked me what I was grateful for, my response was “the opportunity to help others.” Before we studied the topic, I don’t think my response would have included the word opportunity.  I am grateful for the opportunity to help a patient get out of pain. I am grateful for the opportunity to support a coworker grow personally and professionally. I am grateful for the opportunity to give words of encouragement to a friend. I am grateful for the opportunity to offer advice. I am grateful for the learning/wisdom/experience I gain from a mentor. I am grateful for the opportunity to get away with my wife. I am grateful for the opportunity to make memories with my kids. It is the gratitude for all the opportunities and experiences that lead to my happiness.

When I asked my kids what they were grateful for, I had no idea what their answers would be. As it turned out, I had no idea what my answer would be. Discussing the relationship between gratitude and happiness allowed us all to see just how many opportunities exist. And for that I am grateful.