To find gratitude, I think it’s helpful to imagine things not existing. Instead of saying that I don’t like these qualities about my house or my wife or my life, why not instead imagine those things not existing at all. So instead of comparing those things to my ideal versions of them, I compare them to nothing. And when I compare my life to nothing, I have everything.
While hate is comparing two things and preferring the absence, love is preferring the presence.
I hate qualities about my life and myself and my wife, but I also love my life and myself and my wife. I wouldn’t prefer a lack of life over life or an absence of my wife over my wife.
This realization that I prefer things over their absence is appreciation. To look at the qualities that they have instead of the qualities that they don’t have. To be thankful for what is, and not mad about what isn’t.
With this in mind, I can be grateful for both the time with my family and away from my family.
This got really interesting when I started thinking about the afterlife. Because if I die I would lack all the people that are currently a part of my life. So while I can be grateful for what was. And they may be grateful for me.
Regardless of the afterlife, they will lack me. But in the case of the afterlife, I would lack them as well.
We all may lack someone in the next life, for reasons I’ve discussed before. But I think that void is filled with gratitude and not regret. Unless, that is, we lack the one person that we shouldn’t lack.