I am pretty sure everyone is talking about gratitude this week, I mean tomorrow is Thanksgiving and the holiday season will be officially in full gear so it makes sense. Everywhere you look in November there are articles about gratitude. Most of them are top 10 lists of ways to show gratitude or top 20 reasons gratitude is important in your life. All of that is great and if we are honest, don't we already know all of that? Of course being grateful is a great thing and of course it would help people feel happier and more positive. But knowing you "should" do something and knowing "how" to do it, especially on a regular basis is easier said than done. Just ask anyone who has ever attempted to eat healthier or make a New Year's Resolution to "work out more". We know we should, but man is it hard to do it day after day.
But expressing gratitude feels good. I mean cheese burgers are delicious, celery not as much so I get the whole diet dilemma. Exercising is hard, but Scandal is so easy to get hooked on. The struggle is real with these. I just can't wrap my head around the gratitude part though...
Apparently, there are actual reasons, according to some doctors and researchers that people struggle to show or express gratitude. Most of them, from the best I can tell are linked to feelings of insecurity and low self esteem.
Negative emotional baggage from our childhood (1)
Perception as a sign of weakness (1)
Feelings of vulnerability (2)
confusion with the idea that gratitude has to be expressed for both good and bad (3)
Now, this makes sense to me. It isn't that we aren't grateful, it is that we don't feel deserving of the things in our lives that we would traditionally show gratitude for. I wish I could say I felt good about knowing this and understanding it. I say this because, doesn't it always come down to low self esteem and insecurity? When did we become so critical and self loathing?
I tried googling this, by the way and found very little. It has been part of a scientific/psychological conversation since the late 1800's/early 1900's and in the 1960's the idea of "self esteem" was defined by the "Rosenberg self-esteem scale" (4) but none of this tells us "when" it became such a big deal. Was it always there, since the beginning of time? Obviously as we have learned more about the human mind we understand more about the concept and that is fantastic but I still want to know where the heck it came from to begin with. Since, apparently that is not going to happen for me today but maybe it is like Deepak Choprah said, it is important for us to first understand why we struggle with gratitude. Once we do that, it allows us to be more aware and take time out to be grateful not just for others but for who we are more often than once a year over turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberries.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.
Be good to others and YOURSELF