When thinking about gratitude, many would define it as appreciating what you have. This is a valuable concept that I can readily appreciate. However it does tell the entire story. Let’s take a deeper look into the role of gratitude on one’s mental health and well being.
What if your lack of gratitude wasn’t just falling short of an ideal aspiration but actually harming you? Imagine for a moment that you are looking at a tiled wall, perhaps in a bathroom or kitchen. One tile happens to be missing, exposing the bare wall underneath. Where does your attention go? Suddenly, you tend to overlook the dozens of other tiles perfectly installed in favor of this irregularity. A tiled wall can easily be made complete but what if the missing tile is a part of you? We all can relate to wishing we were a little taller, a little more fit, a little less single, or different in some way. Furthermore, we tend to see our “missing tiles” everywhere. You enter a room and everyone seems to be taller than you or everyone seems to be coupled all because it demands our focus. Suddenly, we have magnified our perceived insufficiencies without even realizing it.
When we allow our focus to be drawn to what is missing not only do we not appreciate what we do have but we uncritically decide to make what we don’t have the most important part of us. Unlike a tiled wall, this missing part of us cannot always be resolved. To make something you cannot change or resolve the most essential part of your self-worth is a formula resulting in unhappiness without end in sight. Perhaps when we struggle to be gracious it is not a reflection of how thankful we are rather, we are yet to understand and accept our strengths and limitations in the world. A hyper-focus on what’s missing would certainly serve to fuel a sense of insecurity and inadequacy – feelings that routinely hinder people in modern life.
We all have amazing potential and inherent value as human beings and this is not simply wiped away due to our deficiencies. If you’re trying to make sense of your place in the world and would like some help, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.