Gratitude Is What We Do

To one extent or the other, we can all relate to the advice to be grateful for the little things. Being consumed by worry about what might, or has, gone wrong, is a draining experience, and unlikely to produce contentment and happiness.

At IdeaFestival 2013, Oliver Burkeman offered examples from his book, "Antidote, happiness for people who can't stand positive thinking," to demonstrate that a hard headed realism and the recognition that failure is an option may lead to better and more positive outcomes, personal and otherwise. He appears in the very brief interview posted above.

In particular, I remember his observation that "one needn't feel like something in order to do something."

Sound advice.

Recently I read an article on choosing gratitude that makes a similarly useful contribution to the subject of happiness. The author argues that acting grateful can make you grateful.

For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. This point will elicit a knowing, mirthless chuckle from readers whose Thanksgiving dinners are usually ruined by a drunk uncle who always needs to share his political views. Thanks for nothing.
...But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness.

What I liked about the article was its focus on the practice of gratitude, which does not require intellectual assent - think positive thoughts! - so much as our cooperation. Happiness flows from a sense of agency, regardless of circumstance.

So to find more gratitude, enlist your hands and feet.

Gratitude is what we do.

Stay curious™

Wayne