So, so much is written about gratitude. That’s the case because it’s so important. But when we do it from a place of “have to” (as in it’s a “good idea”), when we do it a from a place of “doing” gratitude instead of “being” gratitude, as in being grateful, it’s actually empty and can cause more harm than good. When we cheapen gratitude by using it only for what it can give us, with the thought that “if I express enough gratitude I will be rewarded with good things”, we’re not actually in gratitude, we’re using it simply as a means to an end…as a tool…as a way to get what we want.
When we use gratitude as a tool, we’re trying to leverage a spiritual principal from a place of non-humility and manipulation, and that doesn’t get rewarded. As a result, this gratitude is hollow, the impact is negligible, and we wonder why we’re not feeling any better. It’s not gratitude; it’s like spiritual trickery…like we think that we can pull one over on the universe. Look at me, I’m pretending to be grateful, but I’ve got my fingers crossed behind my back. I know that might sound a little strong, but reflect on when you have been genuinely bursting with and moved to tears kinda grateful vs. when you’re doing it by rote and you’re filling in the blanks because you know that you “should.”
The point is: to find the genuine gratitude. And yes, you might need to prime the pump a little, but if all you’re doing is priming the pump, something’s not right. It’s actually about getting into the space of gratitude, being genuinely grateful, before you start rhyming off the list of what you know you ought to be thankful for. Back to my original point: It’s about being grateful. Not doing a gratitude list.
In The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky talks about how expressing gratitude is one of 12 ways to increase our positivity and resiliency. Robert Emmons (a very prominent researcher/writer about gratitude) defines it as a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.
Take a look at where in your life you are genuinely grateful and what the impact has been , versus where you’re trying to “do” gratitude and what the impact has been. Next time you’re going to do your gratitude list, take 5 minutes first to really sit, breathe, open your heart to have that felt-sense of wonder, appreciation, and thankfulness, before you write the list, as opposed to hoping the list will create the feeling.
Ok, over to you:
Have you ever found yourself “doing” gratitude instead of “being” grateful? How do the two compare for you?