Be grateful again!(and again)
You must be thinking about the academic aspects of gratitude as you read this post. it’s not really one, I’m here to show you my journey after a year thinking hard about it.
It was a journey of a book “Gratitude in education” by Kerry Howells(The video can be found above). The obvious reasons were cause there wasn’t much literature focusing in depth on gratitude. The other reason was that I am focused on the education aspect of gratitude.
You think about gratitude as something obvious, a process that goes through your mind each day without thinking much about it. Gratitude is this invisible partner you see often but just neglect it because you are preoccupied with your daily activities in life.
You spend maybe 1/4 of your day being grateful to God, being grateful to the ones that helped you when you needed them most. You feel grateful when there is a positive outcome from an important occasion like passing your examinations, Drivers license or get promoted.
On the other hand, there are times where we really take things for granted. For example, we assume that we will get the service we expect because we paid for it. Anything below that standard, we express anger and frustration, questioning the standards of the service provided.
This sense of entitlement is what holds us from gratitude and even expressing it. I felt how it creates the negative energy that deters people from showing their true-self in being gracious and kind. You feel a lot less grateful when you missed a train, get blamed for something that isn’t directly your fault, etc. These events drain your energy and affect your mood for the day/week/month.
So to get you started on your journey, my clear intentions are providing some perspectives that you should consider as part of a new year resolution.
Is this about Positive thinking again?
Positive thinking is deeply embedded in gratitude because you are feeling grateful for the things that happen around you. Both positive thinking and gratitude are emotions that take up your time, and with it effort. It requires changes to your daily routine, if you are a pessimist or if you never feel grateful about anything. Positive thinking is about the die-hard attitude of believing you can perform a certain task or overcome a difficult situation too.
Deep within gratitude, it is more than just having optimism. It is a deep appreciation of things/situations that occur around you and how you react towards it. Being positive doesn’t make you grateful for anything, it just makes you able to overcome anything! Howells did mention how emotions are interconnected and separation was not possible. It implies that we cannot remove just disappointment and feel happy instantly. What emotions we feel is an interconnected chain of thoughts. Separation is never possible!
What do I need then?
You will need to develop the appreciation of the things that you have, not the things that you don’t. List down the things that you feel happy and grateful for. Here are some things that you will overlook(non-exhaustive):
- Being able to see clearly each day
- Have a mode of transport to and fro (Work/Home)
- Being able to wake up everyday
- Having a Job!
You can pause for a moment and think about these before reading on. I advise you to identify some of them that made you rethink about being grateful. It is an important moment to think about.
Howells reminded me that gratitude cannot happen every single day and moment. It is impossible to overturn an unhappy situation and feel grateful for it (Although it is possible to feel positive about it). So let’s prepare ourselves to feel gratitude.
Don’t expect anything in return
Don’t you hear phrases where people tell you:
”You ought to be grateful that someone celebrated your birthday!”
You would also hear phrases like:
” Why doesn’t John says anything about the present I gave him last week?”
“I gave up my seat to this guy and not even a word of thanks! What an I’ll mannered person!”
If one of these sounds familiar to you, congrats! It’s time to step out of it, or even tell someone that you should not expect anything in return. Strange to say this, but it’s a phrase in life that I go through myself.
My dad used to tell me about this terminology called unconditional love, where you love someone without a condition, without expecting anything in return. Bear in mind that it is something you feel uncomfortable about because you feel self-entitled. It is a feeling to love yourself more than others.
Sometimes when you give something or offer your seat on the train, you’re always expecting something in return, as to make you feel ‘rewarded’ and happy. Life is kind of different, it doesn’t always work that way. Because of that, you will accumulate lots of disappointment and feel that gratitude just isn’t worth it. To make things simple.
Don’t expect anything in return when you give. Be appreciative of what is given.
It requires perseverance
I personally feel that gratitude can bulldoze and drain your emotions easily. Within weeks, I foresee you might be exhausted and start reverting back to your habits. For once, to conquer and feel gratitude, you might have to overcome social norms and culture. It means that your personal belief system will be tested. I challenge you to bring your perseverance to another level, it will take time, but it is highly rewarding! It can be daunting and makes you feel powerless. This stretched goal can be a long and tedious journey. But, don’t sulk because you are not alone in this journey.
Keep being grateful, and the world will be grateful to you!
Be intentional about it
We are subconsciously aware of gratitude as it feels habitual. It is a feeling that we can overlook easily.
One of my best advice for you is to do something differently that’s related to gratitude. I never ever thought of getting a good luck charm certificate to provide well wishes for my boss for her upcoming conference. I was very sceptical about my idea because I thought of things like, “What if I can’t get everyone’s signature?What if nobody wants to sign this card?” This list goes on and on and on…
But deep within me, I had to do it, because I wanted to express gratitude in a way that I never did. The important lesson here is not only being intentional about gratitude, but also doing something out of the ordinary so people might become aware of the differences. Take the recognition as a bonus, but rest assured that the gratitude feeling that comes after doing something different is intrinsically rewarding. Remember that we always feel good when we do something good for others!
Create good intentions to make good things happen!
To sum it up, I took an example from Kerry Howells, whom I read about in Gratitude in Education as she speaks about how a downstream effect that gratitude has when you express it on a daily basis. What I’m saying is that gratitude flows down to our students.
I would believe that gratitude is something very holistic and pure, not easily achievable and overlooked at times. It was actually a reminder that your role, as parents, as educators, as a professional has a great deal on whatever you do. Being grateful to the things you have, as mentioned above, helps you to develop gratitude in many subtle ways.
Your tale of wonder will unfold as you express gratitude to people in your life. – Kathryn Sievert
As a self-reflection, I have taken the initiative to express gratitude each day, to be thankful for the days and things that I have and for the journey that God has given me. It can be a very rewarding journey, but it could really be lonely. There are a lot of things that you could benefit from. My last take away for you is:
Start small, dream big, you will succeed!