Are you grateful?
Do you think that’s too sweeping a question? Maybe you prefer to give me a qualified response. Something like this: “Well, I’m grateful for my health, but I’m hacked off about my boss. My kids are doing ok at school, but they’re getting a bit lippy. The wife and I get on alright, but not much is happening in bed.” “Yes, but…”, “Yes, but…”, “Yes, but….”
Do you think that someone who answers like this is happy and content?
I once read some interesting research on how couples feel about their relationship: If people experience as many good moments together as they have bad moments, they think that their relationship is in trouble. People only experience their relationship as happy if they have five good experiences to every bad encounter!
That’s interesting, isn’t it? It means that bad moments have much more impact on us than good ones–especially if we take them for granted.
Let’s take some liberty with these findings and transfer them to the problem of gratitude. This would mean that in order to feel content, we would need to find five things to be grateful for, for every one thing we dislike about our life.
Gratitude is a muscle that needs regular exercise.
Otherwise that emotional ‘muscle’ atrophies, and we become angry and bitter instead of happy and content.
Here’s a very simple way to do gratitude ‘push-ups’: At night, just before you go to sleep, go back through the day and make a list in your mind of all the things you can be grateful for.