And with it comes Thanksgiving and the focus on gratitude. I love the idea of intentionally cultivating the habit of thankfulness all year! In fact, every Thursday is #ThankfulThursday on my social media feed, which challenges me to consistently be aware of what I love and feel blessed by so that I can share it with you! I’ve been thinking lately…. Why, even with this weekly practice, can I sometimes still fall short in the grateful department! Why? What is it that trips me up?
What is it that derails our efforts to be more grateful? ……. Our habits.
Underlying habits that we may not even be aware of can sneak in and trip us up. Certain habits, like weeds in a garden, can creep into our garden of gratitude and strangle our grateful heart, prevent its growth. Many habits come to mind, but these six habits are particularly lethal for gratitude; comparing, self-pity, complaining, isolation, entitlement and busyness.
Certain habits can derail our efforts to cultivate gratitude!
When we compare ourselves with others, we become preoccupied with who they are and what they have, and forget all about who we are, and what we have. The formula for comparing goes like this:
- First- look at another person, family or situation and make assumptions based on what we think we see.
- Second- measure ourselves, and our lives against that perception.
- Third- feel inadequate, inferior, incompetent, left out, mistreated, or whatever negative feeling you like.
Comparing sounds like this,
- They have a perfect marriage…We should be able to have a perfect marriage.
- Their kids are so accomplished…Our kids should be that accomplished.
- They have a new car…We should be able to have a new car.
- Her house is perfect… I should have a perfect house.
- She is always so put together… I should look better, dress better, etc.…
Comparing ourselves to others kills gratitude because we are so focused on other people, that we miss the blessings, gifts and talents in our own lives.
Self- pity is the deadly self–talk, that comes from a combination of comparing ourselves with others and thinking we’re getting the short end of the stick. It’s an ugly recording that plays over and over in our heads. It begins with, “poor me”, and ends with whatever we feel we are lacking or deserve. Left unchecked, self-pity can grow into a full-blown victim mentality, making us feel like everyone and everything is against us.
- Oh, poor me, my spouse is my problem
- Oh, poor me, my kids are my problem.
- Oh, poor me, what I don’t have, is my problem.
- Oh, poor me, everyone is against me
- Oh, poor me, no one wants me to get ahead.
Self-pity prevents us from being grateful because we see everything through a victim filter. We tend to hyper focus, on what we don’t have and the negativity we perceive being directed at us. Left to grow, self-pity can actually lead to looking for the negative in a situation, or perceiving other’s intentions as negative instead of positive. If we wallow in self-pity, eventually we lose our ability to see any positive in our lives. Negativity destroys gratitude.
Complaining, is really just verbalizing our self-pity. It’s that “poor me”, negative disposition spilling out of our mouths. The next time you complain, think about where it’s coming from. Is it possible that you are feeling sorry for yourself? Like self-pity, complaining prevents us from being grateful, because when we complain, we turn away from the blessings, and give the negative a voice. Complaining drowns out gratitude.
Entitlement is the general attitude of feeling as though we “deserve” whatever it is we want. Entitlement can be a way of justifying things in our lives, and can sound like this, “After all, I work hard and I am a good person, I deserve it”. When we work hard, it’s normal to want to enjoy the fruit of our labor or treat ourselves for a job well done. However, when entitlement sneaks in, it changes our intention from enjoying and appreciating, to expecting it.
The problem with the “I deserve it” attitude is that it sucks the need for thankfulness out of any blessing, gift or circumstance. If we think we deserve it, it’s no longer a gift or blessing. If it’s not a gift, or blessing then what is there to be thankful for?
The cautionary response to COVID-19 of shutting down, sheltering in place and socially distancing has created an overwhelming feeling of isolation, and for many it has exacerbated something that they were already experiencing because of the automated and digital world we live in. Even before the virus, we could go about our day with zero human interaction or even having to go outside. The world of virtual working, learning, shopping, and connecting was already upon us…. COVID just sped things up – a lot.
Isolation is detrimental to our mental and physical health. It makes our world incredibly small and leads to feelings of deep disconnectedness, of “being completely alone” which can lead to profound loneliness. Shrinking our world, also shrinks our perspective which invites negativity and a sense of “lacking” that can feed a “poor me” attitude. Gratitude thrives in an open, expansive, abundance mindset. Isolation destroys gratitude because it closes, shrinks, pushes away, and limits.
Here again, we have the COVID-19 factor. Before the virus, many of us were struggling with balancing the “busy”. We were running hard and trying to keep up with the life that we created. The phrase “I wish I had more time” was a common topic of conversation. Then it hit and we all came to a screeching halt. Because of the lockdown, our schedules were immediately cleared, and we had all the time we wanted! It forced us to come face to face with the space created by an empty calendar. Many people I talked with during the first days and weeks of the quarantine, were realizing how unnecessary many of the things that filled their time were.
Now, as things keep opening up, we have the opportunity to re-evaluate and be more intentional about the pace we keep. We have an opportunity to re-think what we say “yes” to and re-learn the word “no”. A frenetic pace destroys gratitude because, it robs us of the time we need to actually notice what we have. It takes time to notice what we’re thankful for! How can we appreciate and be grateful for the little things when we’re moving at the speed of light? We can’t even see the little things; they speed by too fast!
If we want to live our best life, we need to be intentional about cultivating a healthy attitude of gratitude. This takes more than adding behaviors that help us remember to be more thankful. (Although those are super important!) It also requires us to notice habits we may have developed that prevent gratitude from having deep roots in us! It’s like weeding and cleaning out all the rocks and debris in a garden to get the best harvest!
November is the perfect month to intentionally cultivate our garden of gratitude!
With that in mind I’ve been working on a little something for November! ……..
This November, I invite you to join in on a (free!) 30 Day Challenge to root out anti-gratitude habits and intentionally work on habits that Grow Your Gratitude!
When you sign up, here’s what’s in store:
- A Welcome, including the Why, What, How of gratitude
- Daily prompts to help identify, root out and replace anti-gratitude habits with habits that nurture thankfulness.
- Weekly facts about the health and wellness benefits of living gratefully.
Let’s use each of the 30 days of November to notice, root out, and practice one thing that will help our gratitude to grow deep in us!
I’m looking forward to Growing in Gratitude Together!! #GrowYourGratitude
Love and Blessings,