As the title of this Zoom-Out says, things could be infinitely worse. You could not be here at all or never have even existed. The number of potential illnesses is staggering. The number of ways to have an accident, and no fault of your own, is enormous. The sheer number of cataclysms that have occured is beyond count.
This takes some imagination but is a great way of finding gratitude for what you have in any situation or day-to-day.
Stoic Philosophy has the practice of “negative visualisation” in which one imagines negative things that could have happened in order to remind yourself of how lucky you are. That’s very much aligned with the spirit of this Zoom-Out. We often take the good in our lives completely for granted.
In Positive Psychology, cultivating gratitude is considered a powerful, if not the most powerful, wellbeing-boosting skill. I recall many years ago when Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, was providing consultancy to the British Government on how to help the British population be happier. He was interviewed on the BBC’s breakfast show. At the end of the interview, the interviewer, realising that they were almost out of time, asked Seligman what one thing could the people watching do, to boost their happiness? Seligman replied that they should practice gratitude.
There is also an old saying:
“Happiness is not about getting what you want but wanting what you’ve got”
It’s also in a song:
“It is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”
– Sheryl Crow in her song “Soak up the Sun”