A few words about this whole Gratitude thing

So, you may have noticed, after several years of very sporadic blog entries I’ve starting posting about 3 things I am grateful for on a daily basis for the last while. Why? 3 reasons.

1) Everyone else was doing it on FaceBook

I had seen a bunch of Facebook friends posting about gratitude every day for 3 days, or a week, or whatever. I kept thinking, that’s a good idea, I should do that.

2) I had listened to this interview on CBC where I learned that gratitude promotes happiness.

This is really the catalyst that made me start. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson states that we are predisposed to remember negative experiences, but by reflecting on the positive ones we can train our brain to burn in the pathways that are required to hang on to that positivity in a more habitual way, and make us happier. Well, I’d like to be happier, so here I am reflecting on positive experiences. I like putting it here on the internet because this way, I’m accountable, so I’m reflecting more as I write. It’s the internet, so it’s an indelible record – hopefully one day me, or someone who gives a cuss about me will find this and get a better understanding of who I am right now.

3) I’ve been thinking a lot about entitlement, and I think it’s not good for anybody. Further, I think gratitude is the antidote for entitlement.

In my efforts to raise kids and rase’em right, one can’t help but to reflect on how the behaviours I want to correct probably come from me. It’s hard to admit, but I think my through my background and experience I’ve developed a sense of entitlement. I’m a white male in a western democracy. That right there gives me all the privilege I need to feel like the world owes me something. Where’s my high paying 9 to 5 job? Where’s my new car? Why is this house a mess? I took the free ride from my family through university. I deserve what’s mine!

I think it’s hard to be around entitled people. Generally, they can be real jerks sometimes. Only recently have I begun to see my own entitlement for what it is. Turns out, the truth is that entitlement is painful for the entitled, too. That disappointment you feel about your station in life? Might be something else, but there’s a good chance that disappointment, right there, is entitlement.

Often, my kid exclaims “Where’s dessert?” or “This toy you just gave me isn’t the big blue Super Action Man one, I WANT THE BIG BLUE SUPER ACTION MAN ONE!!!”. While my knee-jerk reaction is to blame them for this outrageous behaviour, about 5 seconds reflection draws me to the inescapable conclusion that they are learning about what the world owes them from me. Also a key factor: they are learning how to respond to that notion by watching what I do as well.

Which is to say, if I am thinking there is something wrong with my kids’ behaviour, there’s probably something I should be looking at about my own behaviour. So in this instance, I say, CUSS YOU, ENTITLEMENT. Then, I try to have a little gratitude, and I try to do it every day on this blog.


 

ONE MORE THING

As I post all this gratitude stuff, I am aware of how posts all about how great life is can lead to unhappiness. And so, I’m writing this disclaimer: As I post about the things I am grateful for, I am editing out the stuff I am ABSOLUTELY NOT grateful for. The tone is always pretty cheerful in these posts, but the honest truth is that a significant amount of the time I am writing them, I am struggling to come up with one good thing to say about my day.

It’s worth the struggle though, because when I decide to look for it, I see that great things big and small happen to me all the time. The fact is, I’d probably miss those things if I didn’t bother to reflect on them.

 

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