Friday, March 12, 2010

Cultivating gratitude

GratitudeAn acquaintance of mine is down in the dumps.  The kind of down in the dumps where everything takes effort, joy is nowhere to be found, and relief is out of sight.

Since I don’t know this guy that well –and -- I am not a therapist I asked if he has considered seeing somebody about this.  He didn’t seem to like this idea so I racked my brain for others.

“If you don’t like anything about your life, wouldn’t it stand to reason that you would be willing to change at least some aspect of it?”

I suggested he start with gratitude.

He went on to say that he had tried it before and it hadn’t worked.  Based on the examples he gave me, I wasn’t surprised.  In my mind, “I’m grateful my apartment didn’t fall into some sinkhole” doesn’t really comply with the spirit of the exercise.

When he explained he had trouble finding anything to be grateful for, I reminded him that the goal of the exercise is to get better at it.  I also pointed out that he doesn’t have to wait around for something he’d be grateful for to happen on its own.

Are you wearing comfortable clothes?  If not, go put some on and be grateful you’re dressed comfortably.  Is there a particular food you like?  Bring it to work with you and be grateful you had a tasty lunch.  In other words, stack the deck in your favor until you’re skilled enough that you won’t have to.

Who knows if he’ll act on my advice.  But, given how many references I’ve come across linking gratitude to happiness, I think I will.

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