‘Tis the season to talk about thanks. Expressing gratitude is a hot topic in pop psychology; a plethora of social psychology research has been conducted about the benefits of expressing gratitude. Apparently feeling gratitude is not enough to reap the benefits, however; one must also express gratitude.
Allegedly there is a direct correlation between happiness and expressing gratitude; the more one gives voice to appreciation, the happier one feels. On the other end of the equation, the more one expresses gratitude to others, the more positive they feel about the sender. Thus, relationships improve. In the business world, this expression of gratitude translates into higher productivity.
So, the question remains: if expressing gratitude has so many benefits and it’s FREE, why are many of us so resistant to actually making it habitual? Thanksgiving comes once a year; what about the other 364 days?
Grass is Greener Trap
One reason for our resistance is that we are a nation of kvetches, meaning we love to complain and think our lives aren’t as great as they could be. I, for one, have kvetching programmed in my DNA; I fight the urge to compare my life to others’ lives. One of my big gripes with Facebook is that I believe it brings out that pesky narcissistic streak in us which prompts us to post pictures of our beautiful, successful children and grandchildren (except for the ones who are incarcerated), our sumptuous meals and amazing travels.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a syndrome borne from the social media phenomenon. How can my Lonely Choice reheated meal compare with the plate of tagliatelle with truffle cream sauce my friend gleefully consumed in a Tuscan bistro and posted on Facebook last week? Why does everyone seem to be having more fun than I am??
The truth is, they’re not. Facebook and other social media sites are heavily edited versions of real life. For those of us, who find it difficult to avoid comparisons to these fantasy versions of life, a restricted diet is advised. Constantly checking social media for many people is like feeding peanuts to someone with nut allergies.
Attention and Gratitude
Focusing one’s attention on all the positive aspects of one’s life is certainly a better strategy for feeling happier than focusing on what’s missing. And expressing appreciation and gratitude to those who help you maintain your balance, your focus and your health is never going to hurt…and may even help.
To all of you, reading my ramblings and trying to make sense of this world, I thank you and am grateful to have this forum to express myself freely.