Gratitude Seems Stupid – Until You Understand It

03
Oct

 

CHOOSE YOUR THOUGHTS finalfinal

 

Updated: May 11, 2017

 

“Gratitude.”

The practice of focusing on blessings. The idea of appreciating everything that is good in your life.

I don’t have anything to be grateful for! My life has been hell. ‘Gratitude?’ What a load of hokey pokey nonsensical claptrap.

Eye rolls are common when the concept of ‘gratitude’ is mentioned. Gratitude is often dismissed as some kind of cheesy utopian fantasy.

Gratitude is misunderstood. You have to understand it to get it.

 

Think Of Gratitude This Way

It’s not about visualizing yourself on a sunny beach while you’re driving in a zero visibility snowstorm.

It’s not about jamming positive thinking down your throat when your mood or outlook is sour.

It’s not about forcing anything.

It is a choice to look for the good in what appears to be negative.

This choice is not easy. It does not flow magically towards you when you need it. It is not a glorious divine epiphany.

It’s a practice that requires commitment.

It also doesn’t come naturally to the human brain. Our brains are wired to think negatively to keep us alive, away from danger, and protected.

Developing a practice of gratitude requires willpower.

Think of those ice cream cartons in the freezers at the grocery store. You see a carton, you want one. But you’ve learned from experience that fattening food lays fat on the body, leaves you bloated, constipated, and impairs your mood.

So you resist the urge.

Why not resist the urge to stuff your mind with junk too.

 

Changing Your Perceptions

A few years back, my husband and I were comparing ideas about the previous year’s accomplishments.

“It was not a good year,” my husband moaned. He explained why.

I countered: “Not completely true! The past year had so many positives too!”

“Yes,” I concurred, “we dealt with all of that. But we ALSO were able to do this, achieved that, enjoyed this, survived that thing, our children accomplished this, our pets withstood that, the world is better because that happened..and…”

Suddenly the list of positives was so long!

I snatched the despondent perception my husband presented and twisted it into a Gratitude Pretzel.

We were both relieved that I had.

 

A Gratitude Pretzel?

It’s easy to see the negative.

But within negatives there are always positives. Go ahead, put forth a negative. You do anyway. But then, see if you can strip it bare and twist and transform it into a different point of view. Something with a few more ingredients of hopefulness.

This is always possible.

We often forget about the good. We forget to even see if it’s there, lurking, waiting to be noticed, amidst the black matter in our minds.

What’s seeing ‘the good?’ Remembering that you have healthy children. Loyal pets. Guardian angels during times of stress. Knowing that you persevered when you could have quit. Not having made an ass of yourself at a major public event. You get the idea.

 

A Wee Exercise

Mull over a negative situation that you recently experienced.

Ask yourself: Did I accomplish anything through this wretched situation?

Did I survive something?

Did I help someone?

What did I learn?

Contemplating the possible ‘good’ or beneficial – even pretending to find the good – can be such a comfort! It can transform the searing anxiety and despair you’re feeling into hope!

Tagging everything as a  ‘negative experience’ by contrast, decimates hope. Opportunities and new revelations may be lying in wait from that disaster – but only IF you keep an open mind.

 

Still Not Convinced?

In his article about gratitude, writer Amit Amin offers 31 reasons why ‘finding the good’ is so important.

He says that ‘finding the good’ makes us happier, bolsters our emotions, enhances health (both physical and psychological) builds compassion, resilience, self-esteem, stronger relationships, and increases productivity.

Limiting oneself to negative thoughts is a primitive, old-school response. We are not cave people any more. We don’t have to lie in wait for horrible outcomes and always be primed for battle.

The good is there. The good is always there.

Find it. You will feel much better.

 

This entry was posted on Friday, October 3rd, 2014 at 11:17 am and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

comments

4

While I don't publish all comments, I welcome and appreciate your feedback and participation. If you'd prefer to keep your comment 'private,' please use my contact form (located on my website menu) and indicate this. I will happily respond to all comments and questions.

  1. October 30th, 2014 | Falisha says:

    So grateful to read and use this article. Thanks!

  2. November 4th, 2014 | abby says:

    So glad it helped you Falisha!

  3. December 13th, 2014 | V. Ritter says:

    Great post… Thank you for sharing!

  4. January 7th, 2015 | Aileen says:

    Fantastic site. Plenty of helpful info here.

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While I don't publish all comments, I welcome and appreciate your feedback and participation. If you'd prefer to keep your comment 'private,' please use my contact form (located on my website menu) and indicate this. I will happily respond to all comments and questions.

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