AN OPPORTUNITY FOR GRATITUDE
CYNTHIA GOERIG, Chief Executive Officer
Challenging times always test us, and yet the news every day is filled with stories of people in more troubled situations than we are. It’s an opportunity for gratitude when you realize you are better off than many. Even so, you are not without your own stresses and worries. Here’s how to put it all in perspective.
“There but for the grace of God go I.” This saying is often cited as a reason to take your troubles in stride and be grateful for what you have because others have less. While it’s hard to disagree with this since people have a natural tendency to compare themselves to others, it is kind of like the “stick” side of gratitude, rather than the “carrot”.
There are many ways to think about gratitude, and certainly recognize the advantages you have over others is one approach. Another approach is to find gratitude in the gifts of life that everyone can have: the love of your family, a friend who makes you laugh, fresh air on a beautiful day, to see something that is funny or inspiring, to use your body and muscles in physical pursuits, the food you eat, time with your children, or even just the simple act of waking up each morning.
In the last month, we’ve seen a renewal of these everyday gratitudes and people recentering on many of the foundational touchpoints that ground our lives. You can feel how, even as they want the pandemic to be over, people feel stronger and more empowered by the experience. At the same time, there are things that worry and stress us. And, especially if you lean on the comparative stick for gratitude, you might feel guilty for being stressed when clearly you have it easier than some. My advice to you is to reframe your negative stresses as supportive eustresses, which is a psychological term for stress that is beneficial.
For example, if you worry about money, that can be reframed as supporting security for your family. If you worry about becoming ill, that can be reframed as supporting healthy choices. Almost every negative stress actually has a positive and affirming goal behind it, and stress is the signal to you that the goal is important in your life. In this way, and in these times, even your worries and troubles can become something for which you are grateful.