A New Twist on Gratitude

  • Published
  • By Jaclyn Urmey, MSW, LCSW
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing
Sometimes, when the word gratitude is heard, an instantaneous feeling of guilt washes over some of us as we consider that we don’t appreciate things as we should. “Should” is also a guilt trigger word, and feeling that guilt and gratitude are connected is common for some of us. This can lead to a cycle of self-deprecation, as we undermine or disparage ourselves. For others, a feeling of joy immediately washes over when thoughts of the gracious articles of life are brought to the surfaces of the mind. The end result, however, can be the same: instantly thinking of the good things in our life. Other times, the end result is not being able to identify a single thing for which one is grateful.

Whether you find it easy to acknowledge the things for which you are thankful or whether you struggle, let’s consider a new twist on gratitude: an innovative way for you and you alone to easily identify value in your life. For the purposes of this article, ‘good’ and ‘value’ are interchangeable.

What would it take for you to notice when something good or of value happens? Perhaps, it’s a positive feeling you experience, or an acknowledgement from someone other than yourself. Maybe you have an idea of what “good” things are and once something fits into that category, you feel thankful. It could be a smile you notice or the serendipity of a perfectly orchestrated, stress-free day. Maybe it’s a good day simply when nothing bad happens.

What would it take for you to create something good? First, an awareness that there is a deficiency of good would need to be present, and then the motivation to change it would need to follow. But what value could we possibly create if we aren’t able to identify value in our own lives? Plenty! Many times, people fill voids in their lives by filling voids in the lives of others. This leads to improved feelings of satisfaction with oneself, and, in turn, an attitude of gratitude, as they say.

So where can you start? Check out Greater Good’s quiz to discover if you value the good in your life or if you take things for granted: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/quizzes/take_quiz/6. Whether you are well versed in thankfulness or new to the journey of appreciating the good stuff, you can enhance your sense of thankfulness and discover the value your life has and adds to others.

Now that you know where you stand, you can plan to take action! Action begins with considering ways to add value to something, and then doing it. At www.randomactsofkindness.org you will find a surplus of fantastic kindness ideas, stories, facts, research, videos, and more, to consider in your plan to develop greater gratitude and thankfulness the good in your life. For instance, baking a free cake, posting kind words on post-its for someone else, thanking a veteran, or something that has become very popular over the past several years: paying it forward by paying for the coffee of the person standing behind you in line or at the drive-through.

For some of us, we can only count the blessings in our own life after we realize the blessing we can be to others. Therefore, acts of kindness help keep us humble about the goodness in our own lives. Some of us have more than others, but sometimes others do more for us. So what are you truly grateful for today?

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35