Why Gratitude Can Sometimes Suck
I have spoken numerous times about the power of gratitude and for good reason.
It’s without doubt one of the few positive human emotions that has the ability to kick the ass of the usually more powerful negative states.
Therefore, we should practice it all the time right?
Well, yes and no.
You cannot fake gratitude. You cannot be pushed into feeling appreciative by people looking at what you have and telling you you should be grateful for your circumstances.
That just creates stress.
And there is no law of physics that says you should always be grateful.
Twice recently I have been speaking with clients who have hit me with a line similar to this:
“I feel guilty because I know I should really be grateful for what I have, but what I have isn’t really what I want”
They then went on to point out all the nice things they have and the money they make and then sheepishly admit that they know they are better off than 95% of the worlds population.
So what, if they’re not happy? Happiness is what we all want.
Just because you have more things doesn’t necessarily mean you should be grateful for more things. There are people with much less than you who are much happier.
Take a look at the happiest countries in the world below and you will see what I mean. How many of the top 10 in a recent study would have been on your list if you had been guessing?
I’d have taken a guess at Belize because we have friends there and they love it but as for the rest, forget about it.
- Costa Rica (64.0)
- Vietnam (60.4)
- Colombia (59.8)
- Belize (59.3)
- El Salvador (58.9)
- Jamaica (58.5)
- Panama (57.8)
- Nicaragua (57.1)
- Venezuela (56.9)
- Guatemala (56.9)
Gratitude is not about things per se (although it could be I guess when you are talking about a roof over your head, food on your table and clothes to wear).
But usually it’s deeper than that and about being grateful for who you are, experiences you have, people you know. memories you hold and most importantly how happy you are.
Gratitude Is An Amazing Emotion If Truly Felt
I practice it every single day. However, I never force myself to be grateful for things that I don’t feel grateful for just because Society says otherwise.
I was never grateful for my jobs in sales even when I earned lots of money because the jobs were sucking the life out of me. I was though, very grateful for some of the people I worked with who kept me this side of sane.
Don’t be grateful for a job you hate, just because millions are out of work because that’s likely to keep you stuck there and will negatively impact your health and happiness levels, and I’d rather you not be grateful for having medical insurance when you get sick through stress..
And it’s ok to be grateful for what you have and still want more. That’s not selfish and/or something you should feel guilty about.
I love my job, I love my wife and pups and lifestyle, but that didn’t stop me wanting a home rather than renting all the time. And next week I shall get that wish.
I’ll be grateful for my new home, but I’ll still want a pool at some stage.
Here is The Key
I want a pool, but I’m not attached to having a pool. If it doesn’t pan out for financial reasons, then it doesn’t pan out and I can focus on what I do have.
Don’t feel guilty about not feeling grateful for shit you don’t want. That will just frustrate you and lower your happiness levels as well as your self esteem when you start seeing yourself as a greedy selfish person.
Don’t be intimated by people pushing gratitude down your throat. Focus on what you do have that you are truly grateful for and then set goals to get what else it is you want.
Then be grateful you know how to set goals and grateful that they inspire and excite you on your way to a better life. (If you don’t know how, sign up for my newsletter and get my in-depth book on goal setting to help you).
I’m guessing some people will disagree with my take on this, but even so I will be grateful for their comments even if they do want to rip me a knew one ;-)