The Latin origin Grate has two meanings. On one face you have the definition we are familiar with which the feeling of appreciation and thankful. On the other side, however, you have pleasing. “You should be grateful for what you have” doesn’t spark the kind of joy we should be experiencing with gratitude.
It’s easy to forget to enjoy a warm shower, a warm bed, four walls to keep the cold out, clean drinking water right out of the faucet, a refrigerator that keeps our food cold when it’s ubiquitous. (Three billion people still live on less than $3 per day. So yes, inequality is real and too many are on the edge.)
It’s worth pointing out that the 50 richest people of today are not any happier than the 50 richest people of 50 years ago. Because making money is a game of status and it’s only one axis we can choose to measure. After all, your level of happiness actually goes down after $95,000. So, what are we comparing our lives to? It is almost certain that someone out there has more of something than we do.
There is never enough accumulation to satisfy the lizard brain. Our brains like to think in terms of scarcity. When we are not feeling grateful for what we have it’s because we haven’t done enough to give. When we give we are saying, “I have enough.” Having enough and understanding the pie isn’t fixed is what brings us the joy we seek.