I really thought I had ‘gratitude’ under wraps. I considered myself generally of a thankful disposition and some years ago when gratitude journaling and other such practices became popular I considered to add them on to my prayers of gratitude and started my own daily ritual because I wanted to experience what it felt like and test it out for myself. So, apart from praying in gratitude, I decided to be more conscious and consistent in having appreciative thoughts and for a while I even wrote them down everyday. What I noticed was that the act of writing and repetition of words like: “I am happy and grateful that…” followed by three “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you” (as suggested by Rhonda Byrne) did help to actually bring about and expand the feeling. Repeating the words rote-like even with feeling did not have the same effect. The process definitely confirmed the idea that you cannot be upset and grateful at the same time. The emotion generates a climate of positivity that both reaches inwards and extends outwards.

But recently, I have been feeling that something was missing. Thus, ‘G‘ for Gratitude as I explore where I think I might be falling short.

It could be that since I have stopped writing down daily the ten things I am grateful for, the magic is not that powerful. When I had been doing it regularly, at the end of the month, I really could feel almost a sense of euphoria. The benefits of the practice of gratitude are well documented and there are also studies showing how it boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health. But I still think of ten things in depth, so why has the joyous outcome diminished, I ask myself? Maybe because there are days when I do not do it or do it in a rush? Could be.

There is yet another possibility. Of late, I have found myself whining to the point of nagging. That awareness reminded me of the the 3Cs. which I reflect are in some way diametrically opposed to gratitude. When we criticize, our minds seem to hone in on finding fault and spotting blemishes. When we complain, we are not appreciating. And comparing sucks us into a maze that is difficult to extricate ourselves from. It dawned on me then that even though I am grateful for a lot of things starting with the first thank you for another day, if I am also constantly complaining or criticizing or comparing, be it vocally or in my head, that would surely drastically reduce the total value of my gratitude exercise. In fact, it could nullify it.

The problem is that as humans, our tendency is “to attend to, learn from and use negative information far more than positive information”. (Vaish et al 2008) So we tend to dwell on the one thing that did not go well rather than the ten things that did. This is called the ‘negativity bias’. So if I am complaining or focusing on the lack, the negative, in that moment I become ungrateful and lose the plot.

If we recognize all this, the answer then is obvious: Stop criticizing, complaining and comparing. Much more difficult than sitting down quietly and jotting down things you are grateful for. Though I would add that if one is consistent with any gratitude practice, one is more inclined to look for the positive and the ripple effect on the 3 Cs would be obvious.

We are not only critical of others but sometimes we can be our own harshest critic. In that event, be aware of and challenge your negative self-talk also. Instead start appreciating and savouring the positive, be it in moments, experiences, relationships as well as one’s own strengths and talents. This conscious effort is another way to count one’s blessings and be grateful….even in distressing times.

“Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation of all abundance” Eckhart Tolle

Taking it one step further, being thankful then involves the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness in words as well as in action. The practice of gratitude then shifts from a comparatively passive mode to an active involvement. Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude argues that gratitude is an affirmation of goodness, the sources of which are outside ourselves, either other people or higher powers.

“I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we have been supported and affirmed by other people”.

In the same way that we praise the Lord (if we are religious) or marvel at the mysteries and beauty of the Universe as one way of showing our gratitude, what if we could also praise (appreciate) the people in our lives more often? “When we expand our capacity of appreciating others and life, we expand our capacity to appreciate ourselves”. Mike Robbins.

Here, I must acknowledge and appreciate my strength in that I put this into practise reasonably frequently…even though the possibility of expansion is always there. And I think I am so conscious of the importance of this because one of my pet peeves is obituaries. I think Nobel Laureate Shri Rabindra Nath Tagore sums it up beautifully:

When I’m dead

Your tears will flow

But I won’t know.

Cry with me now instead.

You will send flowers

But I won’t see

Send them now instead.

You’ll say words of praise

But I won’ hear.

Praise me now instead…..

17 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. as i am not a systematic or disciplined person and more, with age, i find that the 3Cs (criticize / complain / compare) tend to sap my energy whilst appreciation for all that comes my way replenishes.
    as i “amend” consciously or unconsciously in my daily life, i tend to see goodness in everything even in bad times!

    being a reserved person by nature and brought up, instead of saying it out, i oftentimes dedicate a blessing from within to the other party, the momentum is set and my gratitude will eventually reach them one day, i trust!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your soul searching thoughts on this subject. Often we miss the first step of appreciating and loving ourselves as the stepping stone to embracing all other relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank You for your truthful/genuine view on Gratitude. As most “fast-paced, ungrateful human” chasing life. I start to learn to just say “Thank You” with even the tiniest thing. Lots of time it’s hard to remember to say at the spur of the moment. BUT, I hope by keep practicing, 1 day it will come naturally 🤞! Thanks for your insight 🙏


  4. So glad to read your post on Gratitude – Now will not hear from you the 3C’s and most important will be Rabindra Nath Tagore’s lines you will always remember – ” Praise me now instead” – your loving husband.!!!! – ha ha – don’t know how to add emoji’s.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My Dear, you have taught me “Action speaks louder than Words” – perhaps it is coming to bite you – ha ha – perhaps you can now write a blog on what you taught me and how one should put that in practice in life.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your thoughtful article. I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately and think we should be more grateful for our beautiful planet. We live in a paradise but make it hell.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s