It is hard to talk about gratitude without sounding trite.
I mean, who hasn't heard Oprah talk about how important gratitude is, and how using it changed her life? And with Thanksgiving (in the US) bearing down on us, chatter about gratitude is all over the place.
It's easy to get grumpy about gratitude.
It's also easy to get glib about it.
And when you get grumpy and glib about something, odds are good you will no longer partake of it. Which is a shame, because gratitude really does rock.
Here are some reasons why I think we tend to not rock gratitude and their antidote as well:
It can feel superficial, like you're just making crap up. Which of course, you are (because we make up all our stories, the ones we write and the ones we tell ourselves about ourselves). But who wants to waste their time on trivialities?
The antidote: Keep going with the gratitude until you get to the deeper stuff–or you realize that you really are grateful for those little things (like hot water, I am grateful for hot water every morning, truly grateful).
It can feel like the booby prize, like you're just saying stuff because you're supposed to, when really your life totally sucks and you don't have anything to be grateful for.
The antidote: Do it anyway, because you really do have something to be grateful for–you're breathing aren't you? Start wherever you can and keep going. The thing is, we get what we concentrate on. So if you're concentrating on lack, that's what you'll get more of.
It can feel like it's not worth it. Ah, humans. So often we only do something when we think we're going to get something out of it. We've been told that a practice of gratitude will enhance our lives, so we do it once and then when nothing happens, we stop.
The antidote: Do it for no reason. Do it because you really are grateful. Do it just because. And then, when you're not looking and not expecting it, watch how good it makes you feel. And, when you need help practicing gratitude, try this:
The And Avalanche
I was at a women's retreat this past weekend and the leader, Karen Drucker, told the story of her friend who likes to participate in an And Avalanche. It goes like this: you find something to appreciate, and then something else. And then something else. And so on. So, you find yourself in line at the post office. It's a long line, and moving slowly. But you tell yourself how much you appreciate the color the walls are painted. And how pretty the jacket on the woman in front of you is. And….and…and…until you have totally lifted your mood. Pretty nifty, huh?
So here's something that will make you feel good all over–a video of the above-mentioned Karen Drucker singing "I'm So Grateful." My favorite part is a few minutes in, where she sings "Gratitude Before Me" complete with hand motions. Start your day with that every morning and see how you feel!
How do you incorporate gratitude into your life?