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How we feel about where we are today affects how we remember and regret the past. The question illustrator Hanan Harchol is trying to understand: what is the relationship between happiness and gratitude? If you can feel gratitude for what you have, it can render those bad decisions unimportant, even not so bad.

And what does this do for regret? It can help you move on and stop ruminating about the “one that got away” or the job you should have taken, and make better decisions in the future.

In this animated video, Harchol shares a Jewish folktale in which a farmer complains about his home being too small. The cagy, local rabbi advises the farmer to bring goats into his small home for a while. Then, the farmer sees how small his home really could be.

Thankfully, we can replicate this advice as a thought experiment. This may sound like a grandma reminding us, “Oh, it could always be worse.” But it’s easier to realize how good life is once you imagine how hard it could be. Isn’t it easier to see a bronze medal as a gift rather than a failed attempt at a gold if you imagine that you might’ve come in 4th place? If the ability to feel gratitude is like building a muscle, maybe the workout starts here.

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5 Comments

I loved this.  I loved how the father was able to realistically vent his frustrations and that the son had to make his argument over several minutes.  People are complex and significant change is difficult to come by.  Hi, Krista!

"...starts here."  ...wherever we are.  

Thanks for this lovely gift, so often we say yes but...it is great to get beyond the but to gratitude.

Very nice and Oh so true.

What a wonderful work... leading us to respond.

I wonder if one prayed (about whatever they wanted to pray) before listening to this animation; and then prayed (however they felt inclined to pray) afterwards. How might the prayers differ?