The Disappearance of Gratefulness

Decorative chalkboards hang on the walls of my house. I fill these boards with quotes to remind myself, my family, and those spending time in my home to keep a positive focus. One of the quotes currently gracing my wall says, “It is not happiness that brings us gratitude. It is gratitude that brings us happiness.” I don’t know where this quote came from or who was its original source, but it reminds me that it’s almost impossible to be truly happy if we aren’t grateful.

Growing up, gratefulness seemed to go hand in hand with good manners, and neither was an option. I tried to raise my kids in the same manner, but I find people react strangely to it now, as though it’s unexpected. It’s as though gratefulness is disappearing, and it’s occurrence has become something unusual. Thanking a server in a restaurant for filling my glass earns a surprised glance. Waiting patiently in a line and being friendly to the harried cashier warrants a tearful smile. When restaurants and stores are closed on holidays, it often seems people are more frustrated at being inconvenienced than thankful the employees will get to spend time with their families.

Just in everyday life, it can be so much easier to voice frustrations than to count blessings. One negative experience can become an entire day filled with irritation that spills over onto family and those around us. Too much time focusing on what we lack rather than what we have can lead to bitterness, depression, envy, and anger. We can easily get caught up in a narrative of entitlement and dissatisfaction.

Fortunately, gratefulness can make a comeback. One way to incorporate more gratitude is to write or say your blessings. Perhaps you could start a gratitude journal, or maybe you’re like me and prefer to keep a list in a notes app on your phone. My phone is always with me, so when I have a really trying day and my attitude is leaning toward negative, I can open up my gratefulness list and read it. I also make myself add to it in that moment so I can remember life is not all bad. The easiest way to incorporate more gratitude is to simply remember or purpose to thank someone every day. You’ll brighten their day and your own in the process. Hopefully, by doing your part to keep gratefulness from disappearing, you’ll bring more happiness and contentment into your life. Feel free to share your favorite ways to express gratitude in the comment section.

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