Guest article by Kristen Truempy
No, I am not talking about Mike or Marty. Gratitude is the grandpa of positive psychology: constantly re-telling the same old tales as we politely sit there, do the eye-rolls, and think, “I have heard this a million times.” Count your blessings, three good things, yadda yadda yadda.
Or how about the recurring Facebook challenges where people state what they are grateful for – and after about 10 days of this, people get gratitude overkill and it all dies down?
Haven’t we covered that enough? Isn’t it more important to delve into other, less-researched positive psychology topics? Hasn’t gratitude reached mainstream, mission accomplished?
First of all, it’s remarkable that 10 days or two weeks of Facebook gratitude peeve people off more than, say, 15 years of cat pictures. But wait: if people posted the same three cat pics for days, weeks, or years, surely nobody would care about them anymore? Repeating the same stereotypical reasons you are grateful (my family, my health) helps you tick off something from your to-do list; but in terms of raising your happiness, you might as well de-fluff your belly button if you can’t be bothered to put a little bit more effort and thought into the exercise.
That’s precisely the heart of the matter: reading the same stuff about gratitude gets boring. Reading about gratitude gets boring, period. Feeling authentic gratitude never does. When your heart is open, raw, and genuinely touched, it’s not possible to be bored.
Like so often in life, we need variety and a little bit of effort. Not too much effort though, I promise, because you can be grateful about almost everything. Look at your socks. No, really, take a break from reading this article and look at your socks.
Do you have any idea how many things had to happen so that you could walk into the store and buy socks? How, luckily, no great bug plague of biblical proportions descended on the cotton fields and ruined all the cotton? Somebody actually picked the cotton. Other people had to figure out the best way to clean it, store it, and transport it. Many years of science went into how to transform the fluffy stuff into cloth. Then they converted the cloth into the socks. On it goes; you get the picture.
Sure, all these people were doing their jobs. But if you think about it, your socks have seen more of the world than you might have and they’re an everyday miracle that keep your feet from smelling and blistering up. So much had to go right just so that you could wear a pair of socks.
And that’s not even touching on the real miracles: people with blue hair and a rat on their shoulder reminding us that maybe looks and conformity are not the only possible path. Our desire to become a better version of ourselves and do something about it, like reading this article right now. Or seeing the face of a loved one witnessing the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
If gratitude is boring to you, maybe add blue hair and a rat to it and see what happens. Be grateful for something you have never been grateful for before. Express your gratitude even if the little voice in your head says it’s weird or unnecessary. Take risks, go deeper, or just be a little crazy with your gratitude. That should take care of your boredom alright.
Photo by Flickr user Theen Moy
Kristen Truempy accidentally discovered the strengths approach when she was 11 years old and captain of a girl’s soccer team. She used her skills of keen observation to discover each player’s talent, structured the practices accordingly, and a year later the team won the cup. In 2012, she had to admit to herself that this experience would not suffice to convince companies to pay her to set the strengths of their employees free, so she embarked on the adventure that is obtaining a Master of Science in Applied Positive Psychology (and recently passed). She can be found at http://strengthsphoenix.com/listen.