A couple of days ago I was in a deep philosophic conversation with a friend of mine. You know, the kind of discussion that happens after work when the day was just too long. And he asked me,
would you become a year older right now, if you’d get a million dollars?
I couldn’t answer the question right away, but after thinking about it, my answer is “hell, no”. We kept talking about it and the conclusion is that I wouldn’t give a day in exchange for a million, either. This was the point where my friend told me to just f*ck off, because I was stupid and didn’t answer his hypothetical seriously enough.
So, was I stupid?
If I think back on my previous weeks, I couldn’t choose a single day that I could completely and permanently just erase out and I wouldn’t lose something important. That’s gratitude, I guess, because it’s not like I’m winning a lottery each and every day. I promise I’m going to collect my thoughts on how you can be grateful for minor and insignificant things, but before I do that, let’s discuss the why.
My #1 reason: people won’t hate you.
Okay, that might be an overstatement. Some people might keep hating you, but most of us actually appreciates the grateful folks, because it’s more pleasant to be around them. I guarantee you that genuine gratitude will make you feel happier, and most of us just love to be around happy people! Apart from a purely emotional view, it generates social support for you that you can use to become more happy and have less problems. It’s exponential. Don’t believe me? It’s like science.
The other thing that goes hand in hand with happiness, is getting a boost for your self-esteem. Think about it, feeling grateful is a great was to save money: you don’t have to buy all those self-help books, because guess what, you’ll love yourself and won’t need them.
Now that you have a happy life, you might want to prolong it. Gosh, I wish there was a way to magically increase health, boost you immune system or just sleep better, right? I wish there was a way to do this without spending money, or eating pills. Turns out, there might be a way. It’s gratitude. (Seeing a pattern already?) And again, gratitude is science, WebMD says so.
Do you like sci-fi? I always loved Stargate, especially the parts where Carter or some unsung smartass designed a time machine to go back in the past just so the SG-1 team could steal some energy source or something. There were a couple of episodes where SG-1 altered the past to create a new present. It’s a shame that gratitude doesn’t work like that. Being grateful can only change how we evaluate the past, and only you can see the alternative present. But that can be enough. According to Behavior Research and Therapy (2006) Vietnam vets with higher levels of gratitude were less prone to PTSD.
And the last, but most practical one is that being grateful can actually yield a better career. Since being deliberately grateful increases your superpower to be empathic, people will like you better. (Remember step 1?) This applies to your working environment as well – and what happens to likeable people at a workplace? They can use it to skyrocket their careers. Oh, and you wouldn’t have to worry about becoming a manager, since grateful people are actually better leaders than the average.
So, how can I be “deliberately grateful”?