Gratitude 2: Reflect on the positive things in your life

Some people become grateful only when things are going their way. For example, they express gratitude when they win a prize, eat a good meal, win a game, receive a bonus paycheck, or are given a gift. But, if they lose something of value, get into an accident, become sick, or have a fight with a family member, they immediately respond with resentment or anger. Why do people respond to the good with gratitude and respond to the bad with irritation?

Perhaps it is because they have a memory problem. They simply can’t remember what happened yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. They are so absorbed by the negative events of the present, that they have completely forgotten the positive events of the past. Furthermore, their limited point-of-view prevents them from seeing into the future, and they lose hope, become discouraged, and perceive they have little reason to be thankful.

To be happy, it is essential that we expand our vision and look beyond a day-at-a-time and examine what has occurred over the last few weeks, months, and years. Examined in its totality, most of us would readily concede that the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Let’s suppose you were running a retail business, and today was a particularly bad day. Nobody came in and bought anything. Plus, you spent most of your time paying bills. In accountant-speak, you had more debits than you had credits. If you were to look only at today’s transactions, you would say you had an unprofitable day. However, the profitability of a business isn’t determined by a one-day glimpse at the cash flow. It is calculated after evaluating the company over weeks, months, or years, and determining if, over time, there was more gained than lost. If so, then it is a profitable business. If not, then it is time to try something else.

When you assemble a puzzle, it helps to see the picture on the box to give you a clue as to what the overall puzzle will look like. You can’t judge what a completed puzzle will look like by examining a single piece. You must view it in its final state. Of course, we can’t look at our life in its totality since it isn’t likely to end today, but we can look at where we’ve been and what has happened to us so far. This will give us a bigger picture and help us determine if our lives have acquired more credits than debits. Chances are, you will soon see that you are one of the wealthiest people around.

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”

Jean Massieu
Assignment A: Find a cup and gather-up a pile of coins. As you go throughout the day, whenever something good happens to you, something for which you should be grateful, deposit one coin into the cup. Every time something bad happens to you, take out a coin. At the end of the day count how many coins are in the cup and write down the amount in your gratitude journal. Then, repeat this process throughout the rest of the week. Do you have more deposits than withdrawals? Post your results as well as your observations on this exercise.
Assignment B: Write a paragraph identifying at least five ways that gratitude can benefit your life.