Common Myths about Gratitude
Every day, I focus on gratitude and living a more thankful life. Granted, there are times, during most every day, where I lose my patience and my gratitude goes out the window. Okay, I lose my sh*t.
When? That’s easy, when my kids bicker while getting into the vehicle. When my daughter loses her mind upon not getting her way. Or, when I’m ready for work and it takes my kids 15 minute to put their shoes on.
How does it take 15 minutes to put on shoes? Oh, let me tell you. There is the part where they weren’t listening. The part where they hadn’t died on their game. The part where they needed to get socks but were wrestling instead. The part where they were following their siblings around and picking on them. And, let’s not forget the part where they were staring out of the door with their socks in their hands.
Makes me miss those days where I put on their clothes for them. While I’m not perfect with gratitude, I work extremely hard to not lose my cool and to realign myself as quickly as possible if I do lose my patience. As soon as I can, I return to my normal state of serenity and gratefulness. My kids are awesome. My life is great. No, it really is.
I can and do quickly bounce back from those less than stellar parenting moments and get back on track.
What about people who intentionally choose not to live a grateful life? Why would they make that choice? I don’t believe that there is anyone who hasn’t been grateful at some point, but I do know that there are a lot of people who feel that the moment needs to be “big” to feel gratitude. Let’s explore some of those reasons and why that thinking is flawed.
Gratitude Makes You a Fool
Some people believe or fear that eternal optimism and happiness comes off as foolish. If you choose to be grateful – about everything, other people will think you’re a Pollyanna or a fool. As a result, you’re ripe for being taken advantage. This is flawed thinking. Just because you choose to be grateful doesn’t mean that you are silly or unaware of bad things happening in the world. The truth is that a grateful person sees the negative, but they choose to not dwell on it and to focus on the good. Instead of being miserable over things you can’t control, you decide to focus on what you can – your feelings and your interpretation of your experiences. Don’t be devastated by challenges. Celebrate the good in your life.
Gratitude Makes You Lazy
Another reason that people intentionally choose to not focus on gratitude is the fear that gratitude will make you lazy. If you are happy and content with your life, you won’t strive for anything more. As a result, these people believe it is best to stay unhappy and driven to succeed. The unfortunate result of this belief is that people end up miserable and miss opportunities to succeed. Opportunities that were right in front of their face. Another unfortunate result is that many people in this camp end up self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, food, or some other form of addiction. Obviously, being grateful and happy in this situation would lead to greater success. People who are grateful are more satisfied with life and are attractive to others.
Gratitude During Hardship is Impossible
The next myth that some people choose to believe is that you can’t be grateful during hardship. If you believe in this reasoning, you will have little opportunity to be grateful. The longer you live, the more challenges and suffering you will face. There will be hardships. The great thing about hardships is what you learn about yourself and those around you during those situations. You learn that you can conquer and overcome struggles. You gain strength. You acquire closeness with those who support you. Furthermore, you learn that the bad times cease to have a hold on you and eventually pass. Most importantly, you need hardship to fully understand the beauty of the good times. So, instead of believing you must suffer for eternity, embrace the lessons you learn, value the memories you hold close to you, and cherish those that rush to your side.
Gratitude is Insensitive
To go along with the last myth, some people feel that it is insensitive to not feel sadness, resentfulness, or anger when something negative occurs. While some situations, such as the illness or death of a loved one is horrible, there is a way to reframe these occurrences and make them less painful; if not immediately, then sometime in the future. It is better to celebrate the person’s life rather than being bitter and angry.
With illness, you are losing valuable moments with your loved one when you choose sadness, bitterness, and anger over gratitude. And, when someone passes away, you are missing out on the beauty of the moments you spent together when you immerse yourself in darkness. Honor the relationship. Cherish your experiences together. If it is a relationship ending, a job that didn’t work out, or a test that you failed, these are all things that can be overcome. Learn your lesson and prepare for a new path filled with greatness, as long as you don’t give up.
Gratitude is Weakness
If you are grateful, people will take advantage of you is the next myth about gratitude. While being grateful does put you at risk of being taken advantage of, it makes you stronger. You are open to other people. You admit what is important and valuable to you in front of other people; without worrying that other people will take advantage of you. However, the fault is not your own. If people attempt to take advantage of your gratitude, don’t wish ill on them. If they try to take advantage of you, they are the ones who are miserable and truly alone. Instead, be joyful in your gratitude and your peace and serenity.
Gratitude is too Precious to Use
This is the last myth and follows the scarcity model. These individuals believe that there is a limited supply of things and if they use too much of “it”, “it” dries up and goes away. Do you know someone who is stingy with gratitude, love, or joy? What are they afraid of? They are afraid of squandering it when the opposite is true. Instead of running out, the more gratitude you feel and express, the more gratitude you feel and receive.
They are afraid they are going to show it and someone else won’t reciprocate. For them, it is easier to not show it then to not get it back in return. The key is that you feel and express gratitude, but don’t expect it back in exchange. When you place that value on gratitude, it is no longer authentic. It becomes a give and take relationship. Instead, give gratitude and it will come back to you in some way. You just can’t dictate when and where it will come from.
Are you ready to share you authentic, grateful self with others?
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