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What prevents people from being grateful for what they have and instead focus on what they don’t have? Why is it so difficult to be thankful and appreciative of our blessings? Do we expect more from life or people or have a sense of entitlement that clouds our thinking? I’m sure there are times when you wish your spouse or children were more appreciative and less presumptuous. Unfortunately, our self-centered society and overindulgent culture contributes to our ungrateful nature.
Others would say that pride is a major deterrent to gratefulness. The deadliest of the seven deadly sins, pride prevents us from recognizing the value of others. Instead, we believe that we deserve the good things we receive. One researcher, Dr.Ross Oakes-Mueller, a PLNU professor believes that anxiety and fear of intimacy get in the way, since gratitude implies reliance on others. For example, if I’m grateful for what someone has done for me and they don’t respond in a compassionate way, I may feel rejected and hurt. In addition, Dr. Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis, points out that gratitude requires a new way of thinking which includes others in our success. He also points out that gratitude goes against our need to feel in control of our environment. Often times we can find reasons to be grateful to God, but it is more difficult to be appreciative of others.
Maybe we had limited exposure to gratefulness from our past or feared dependency on others. Or possibly we operate from the “never good enough” mindset and value nothing we or others do for us. Whatever the reasons you identify with, obstacles to gratefulness can be overcome. Fortunately, there is an abundance of research on the benefits of gratitude including increased sense of self-worth and better emotional well-being. Read next week’s blog and learn ways to be more grateful of others and the life you have.