Week Ending November 23rd, 2018
Content Covered: On Gratitude
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! I hope this holiday season each one of us finds the opportunity to spend time with those whom we love, and on that note, I will present you a few thoughts on gratitude.
Thought 1: Gratitude & Perspective
The distinction between the past and your current interpretation of it is critical, because it offers hope for change. You cannot change what happened in the past, but you can change your attitudes toward what happened.
-Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd
Memory and by association the identity and narrative that we create about ourselves, and the people/events of our life plays an important role in how we see ourselves, and who we will become.
And since much of what contributes to these narratives are rooted in events that we can’t change (the past), it is important to look at the components that we can influence: which is our perspective.
At some point in the future, I’d like to explain in detail how memory works, but for now, I’ll address two key attributes. First, our memory isn’t based on aggregation, we don’t take the last ten minutes and condense it down into a memory of what happened in the last ten minute. Rather, our memory follows something called the “peak-end” rule. Essentially, this means that peaks (moments of elevation or pits where things didn’t go according to plan) and how that particular segment ended (going on a vacation, a party, the day, etc.) affect what we remember and how we feel about that memory. Second, memory isn’t fixed in time. In fact, every time we recall something, our current perception, and attitudes re-color our interpretations of what happened in the past. This is the reason why, in hindsight, we say things like: I always knew Joe didn’t like me, remember that one time he got everyone coffee except me!
So, while we can’t physically change the events of the past, we can change our attitudes towards what happened. Doing so is the first step towards developing gratitude, which then allows you to appreciate life in the present. After this step, we can start working on the tools necessary to align your values with your self-talk to create the future that you desire.
Thought 2: Gratitude & Impact
Gratitude amplifies savoring and appreciation of good events gone by, and through forgiveness rewrites history, loosening the power of the bad events.
Gratitude as a tool of reflection and affirmation has the ability to strengthen bonds. In a way, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Sharing what we are grateful for with others allows us to bring that positive energy into the physical space; furthermore, when we give gratitude to an individual person for a specific reason we allow ourselves to reflect on the importance of that relationship and deepen the bonds that we share with them.
Gratitude can even be used to forgive those whom you feel wronged by. To take a snippet from our first thought: while we can’t physically change the events of the past, we can change our attitudes towards what happened, and in this regard, we can find peace.
Thought 3 : Gratitude & Peace
Gratitude and fear can’t exist in the same space.
It’s a peculiar thought to entertain, that in the space that we hold “appreciation” we can not hold “resentment.” In this regard, I find practicing gratitude to be transcendent. Even if it is just for a moment, while in the act of practicing gratitude we surrender our anger, our fear, our pain, our hatred, our uncertainties. At that moment, we create an aura of warmth and positivity; and in that moment we are free.