Someone holding a board written, "Give thanks"

The Way You Think About Gratitude Is Wrong

3 out of 10 Malaysians are suffering from depression and anxiety [1] due to stress at work and family pressures. If nothing useful is done, you, your family and friends won’t be able to enjoy life. You won’t be happy.

Gratitude has been preached — since ages ago — to be an effective way to curb depression, anxiety, and stress. In recent years, science has caught up and proved gratitude decreases depression and improves psychological health. [2]

“A fool’s life is empty of gratitude and full of fears” – Epicurus, Greek philosopher.

Why depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental illnesses are on the rise if gratefulness is as effective as everyone says?

The answer lies in what you think of gratitude. Most people still believe the wrong thing.

I’ve coached thousands of young professionals, and these are the 4 most common misconceptions about gratitude and how to get over them.

 

1 It’s a hassle to practice gratitude

Time is precious, and you’re busy 7 days a week.  But is it worth to sacrifice your health for career promotion, business revenue, or other people’s expectations? 

The solution: It doesn’t need a lot of energy. You can practice gratitude inside your mind. While you’re commuting to work, think of 3 things you’re grateful for. You don’t have to write it down. An attitude of gratitude is practiced by heart, not by hand. [3]

 

2 Gratitude takes a long time

“I don’t have 20 minutes a day to be thankful, that’s too long! But if it’s too short, I feel like I’m not doing it right.”

The solution: Thanking is like a muscle in your brain. You don’t start with 50kg right away. You begin with 5kg and gradually increase it. So start with 5 minutes of appreciation. The process is simple. Open a book or a voice recording app, and start writing or saying 3 things you’re grateful for. Increase from 3 to 5 and so on, at your own pace. Trust the process; it’ll never betray you. [4]

 

3 There’s nothing to be grateful for

“Today is, as usual, nothing to be grateful for. In fact, there’s a lot I can complain about!”

The solution: You may hate me for this, but I have to tell the truth. There’s always something to be grateful for. No matter how tiny that may be. “As usual” is taking things for granted. You had nasi lemak for breakfast. It’s normal for you, but you can be grateful for being able to eat breakfast. You drove to work. It’s normal, but you can be grateful for having a car. There is always something to be grateful for. 

 

“There’s always something to be grateful for” – Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret.

 

4 It’s impossible to be grateful when I’m angry

It feels almost impossible to feel grateful when you’re stuck in a terrible jam, scolded by your boss, or had a fight with your boyfriend/girlfriend. 

The solution: I agree that it does feel difficult to be grateful when bad things happen. The truth is, you can choose gratitude over negative emotions. As a matter of fact, the fastest way to feel better is by expressing gratitude. Focus on something else and be grateful about it. [5] [6]

 

Think again. What was the reason you didn’t give gratitude a second chance? Probably, you and gratitude had a misunderstanding and I hope things are clearer now.

 

The struggle always ends when gratitude begins, a quote by Neale Donald Walsh.

 

Featured image by Simon Maage on Unsplash


References:

  1. The Star, Aug 5, 2018, “29% of Malaysians have mental problems due to stress, says Lam Thye,” https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/08/05/lee-lam-thye-more-msians-will-suffer-from-depression-by-2020-due-to-stress/
  2. Amy Morin, Nov 23, 2014, “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round, https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/#564c79f7183c
  3. Lewis Howes, “CULTIVATE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE, https://lewishowes.com/podcast/attitude-of-gratitude/
  4. Zameena Mejia, Feb 16, 2018, “How Arianna Huffington, Tony Robbins and Oprah Winfrey use gratitude as a strategy for success, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/16/how-arianna-huffington-tony-robbins-and-oprah-use-gratitude-to-succeed.html
  5. David K. Williams, Nov 21, 2018, “Why Gratitude Helps You Most In Hard Times, https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkwilliams/2018/11/21/why-gratitude-helps-you-most-in-hard-times/#40e68efe4835
  6. Polly Campbell, Nov 25, 2015, “Gratitude in Tough Times, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/imperfect-spirituality/201411/gratitude-in-tough-times
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