Two Surprising Reasons You May Not Be
As Grateful As You Think You Are
How far does a thank you go with you?
How do you feel when someone thanks you and you really sense how much it means to them? How much more likely are you to do it again?
The character quality of Gratefulness most say they have yet little proof can be given to back that statement up.
I love being in the presence of a grateful person. You can truly tell when someone embodies this quality.
Yet how ironic everyone loves to be around the grateful person but rarely willing to do what it takes to actually become that person.
I actually really like the definition of grateful:
Deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received
Another way of saying it is gratitude is the experience of counting one’s blessings. Or as my kids would say “focusing on what I have, not on what I don’t.”
But there may be a couple of reasons why you don’t have this endearing character quality…
Two Specific Reasons You May Not Be As Grateful
As You Think You Are
1. You Simply Rarely Think About What You’re Grateful For In Your Life
Since being Grateful may not be completely natural to us so we must do something to inherit the Gratefulness character quality.
Gratefulness is active not passive which means we must choose what to focus our minds on during the day.
This is harder than it seems and often times, we need something to help us focus.
For me personally, I’ve recently been introduced to a means of daily thinking about gratitude.
I was listening to a podcast called Achieving Your Goals by Hal Elrod and was introduced to UJ Ramdas. He is the co-author of the Five Minute Journal.
He cited a 2003 study by Emmons and McCullough* found that keeping a daily gratitude journal leads to not just an increased sense of well-being but also better sleep, willingness to accept change and also help and lower symptoms of physical pain.
I was SO challenged by starting my day with gratitude, I bought the Five Minute Journal immediately.
The challenge was what if I were to immediately begin my day with writing down three things I’m grateful for right now.
As you can see, there are other questions as part of the journal (which will be discussed in more detail in a future post). But I love thinking through “What would make today great?” And there are a couple of questions to end your day as well.
I’ve now done this everyday for the last month and it’s amazing what this simple exercise each morning has done for my attitude and perspective on life.
To think you’re a grateful person is one thing but when you sit down and actually write out what you’re grateful for is something completely different.
This exercise actually showed the dichotomy of believing and doing.
I’m grateful for having the necessity of becoming a grateful person brought to my attention. And it’s even a character quality we’re focusing on with our kids! “Buckleys are grateful by focusing on what we have and not on what we don’t.”
2. You Rarely If Ever Express What You’re Grateful For In Your Life
The first step has to be thinking of what you’re grateful for but should go to the next level. How?
By expressing your gratefulness.
I found that since I’ve been journaling the three things each day I’m grateful for, I want to let someone else know how much I appreciate them or a certain area of gratitude I feel towards them.
One specific way I found was in good old fashioned card writing. I went to Target and bought a box of colored cards and envelopes ($15?) and have been writing notes to my wife and friends letting them know a very specific way I am grateful for them. Here’s a visual of the suspect:
I love seeing the pile of notes from my wife and I know just how much they mean to her.
As a result from this simple yet powerful exercise of expressing gratitude, these relationships have changed. How would they know if I only “think” it without “expressing it?
Written grateful expressions can also be done through a text, email, voice mail, or even stopping someone, looking them in the eyes, and letting them know you’ve been thinking of an area of gratitude and just wanted them to know. Here are two examples:
Just today I did that to a friend who has become very close in the last six months. I took a moment, looked him in the eyes and let him know just how grateful I am for his friendship and investment into my life. It was a special moment for both of us. The idea came from my morning gratitude section in my Five Minute Journal.
I have one friend who used to choose one person a day to leave a voice mail at a time he knew he they would not pick up the call just so he can leave them a message of one area he was grateful for that person. How awesome is that?! (selfishly, I always loved it was my turn for that call!)
No matter how busy we are in our lives, we can and need to take time to be grateful.
This is an area of your character that ONLY YOU can do.
So, I highly recommend doing one or more of the following action items:
1. Purchase the Five Minute Journal (can only be bought online by clicking here)
2. Purchase a blank cards / envelopes to write thank you cards.
3. Choose someone to call, email, text, or tell each day for the next seven days.
Be the motivated person you are and apply this post in your life today. I would love to hear a few days or weeks from now of the difference it’s made in your life like in mine.
What will you do TODAY as a next step to strengthen your character with Gratefulness?
*source: Count Blessings versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life, Emotions and McCullough (2003)