Why do we need to practice gratitude?
When I think about Gratitude, it is a ridiculous finding like the sky is blue. It is obvious and known by thousand years, but science is not as easy as we thought.
Gratitude is also known by religions and ancient wisdom for thousands of years. We can trace it back to Stoicism, Buddhism, Roman philosophers, other religions, and cultural rituals. In the modern-day, even you don't need those, it often feels like something is wrong if you don't say thanks to people or you don't hear that word back, especially when they give you something that you need.
But what if people don't give you want, will you like to say thank you?
A classic example is children and candy. If we give children vegetables, it would be always revolted with anger and rejection, e.g. screaming, starving, some kids even try to bargain to get what they want. The worst situation is that they turned you from the favorite to an enemy. And started to a blaming game just because of that.
And what if you are struggling in life, you are depressed, you are rejected, you are bankrupted? Would you still feel good to say thanks?
I am pretty sure that we can find this feeling very familiar, especially in the past two years. Several bad events happen. Job loss, family loss, business loss, partnership loss, pleasure activity loss, routine loss, etc.
The world has moved in a direction that there is a mass disruption in how we live, eat, drink, play, study and work. What was the last time you have a social gather with friends and family without worrying about hand sanity and mask? Even vaccination still faces huge friction for society adoption. We all want the previous world back.
In the modern world, thank is now more like a polite sentence as a basic level of conversation. Or Thanks Giving day with Black Friday and full of food. People do it as a reaction and forget its deep meaning, to fight against the negative narrative inside our head.
It has been more than twenty thousand years for a human, or precisely homo sapient, to get where we are today. To survive in the wild, our ancestors have to learn how to quickly detect danger from far away, even when it has not happened yet. Till now, that part is still there in our brain every time we experience something the first time or in a strange place or with a strange group of people.
I still remember my first trip to Costa Rica. I could not think of anything good but except for only volcanoes and earthquakes in the Hollywood Movie set. My body shook before and on a trip. However, it turned out that fear was exaggerated by my imagination. And every time I try something new that fear, stress, and anxiety always come back.
Lots of threats in our modern civilization have been eliminated. Lots of us don't have to care about food, water, clothes, and shelter. We have light during the nights. And we have internet and electricity. What else would we complain about?
What if you say thank you to yourself?
This is where the magic happens. Saying this to yourself: Thank you for being strong. Thank you for being nice. Thank you for being kind. Do you feel something different? Especially when it really means for you, not for somebody else.
What if things happen to you in the present?
Another small exercise, try to tell something that you feel grateful for in a day. Just one, and then extend that list to three. Do that every day for three weeks. Write things down, and then review your progress.
Gratitude is not just about saying thanks but recall positive memory in your life. That's how we build a mental muscle to fight back ... our version of yesterday. The voice at the back of your head says that you are not enough with all dramas.
The reality is that the more we live in abundance, we more easily forget to build that mental muscle. Until hitting a wall and face challenges, we realize that we don't really know how to cope with our dark side.
Not because that someone paints blue on the sky that reflects the world, but in the opposite, it is the rest that our human eyes could see.