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At the beginning of November, a friend of mine posted a challenge on Facebook stating that he had read that gratitude is linked to happiness, so he was going to engage in this 30 days of Thankfulness challenge–see picture above. Recently, I have been feeling pretty cynical about gratitude. So I decided to join in and do a quasi-experiment to see if sharing my gratitude about specific subjects, made me feel happier.
Well, I am halfway through the month (roughly) I have posted every day on my Facebook page, and this is what I have found out so far about gratitude.
First, let me say I struggle posting my answers on Facebook, they seem frivolous, self-absorbed and a little silly. My friend has long quit posting. Each day I continue to post, asking myself why do I continue to post. But it has become like a ritual of sorts, and after all a commitment is a commitment. (To be honest my feelings of doubt about the whole idea might be why I am posting my experiment results half way through the experiment.)
The categories do make me think. They have allowed me to reminisce, think of things in the past and get specific about what I am grateful for.
Have they helped me Live Happier?
I would say yes. (this is why I continue to post) Because they have helped me fine tune my thoughts into something that I am truly grateful for. They have made me think, pulled me out of my day to day life and take stock around something I probably wouldn’t even think about. They have helped me see my life from a more intentional place which, for me corresponds with Living Happier.
Have I changed my attitude about Gratitude?
Not exactly, but this experiment has helped me fine tune my attitude.
I believe we have bastardized gratitude to the point where sometimes the quest to feel grateful makes us feel worse. We have used the term “feel grateful” as a way to prevent ourselves from feeling anything bad in our lives. Whenever we feel sad or angry or unfulfilled, we smile to ourselves and say ‘feel grateful’. And then beat ourselves up when those two words don’t heal the pain, anger or sadness. We think we are doing something wrong because gratitude doesn’t heal everything.
And that is what DRIVES ME CRAZY about gratitude it has become a cure-all for all of our pain. It has been sold as an easy solution to huge complex problems. Gratitude is the buzz word. So many of my clients come into my office with real problems, real pain and they are blaming themselves because ‘they aren’t grateful enough’. When gratitude becomes a way we hammer ourselves, something has gone wrong.
However, when gratitude allows us to see our world differently or become more intentional about what we might be missing it is amazing. Gratitude can be a powerful, powerful force. When I am having a bad day and my husband comes downstairs and gives me a hug, and I think to myself “for this I am grateful” in that moment I do feel better. My bad day is put into perspective, and I feel better, momentarily. If my bad day is because I ‘woke up on the wrong side of the bed’ then, that gratitude moment might snap me out of it. HOWEVER, if that bad day is because I am feeling sick or sad or in real pain, then that moment of gratitude will be a soothing balm for my aching heart. It won’t be the cure-all.
Gratitude is one step in helping us live more intentionally which is what I love about the Thankfulness Challenge. But it is NOT a full solution to our pain and sadness. Sometimes gratitude is a soothing balm, and sometimes we need more than just gratitude we need support, compassion, kindness and love.
What do you think about gratitude? I would love your thoughts. Check out my Thankfulness Challenge on Facebook…or feel free to join in–in your own way.