Last time, we looked at three blockers that keep us from living happy successful lives. If you have not yet read part 1 or would like a review, you can find it here.
Today we look at four more ways that the gratitude we should experience in our lives gets stopped by our thoughts, words, emotions and actions.
Fear and negativity have a profound physiological effect on us. Most people are aware of the Placebo Effect where people given sugar pills improve simply because they believe the pills were helpful. What is less known is the Nocebo Effect. In a study of Chinese-Americans, it was found that on average they died up to five years earlier than their white counterparts if they had a combination of disease and a birth year that was considered ill-fated on the Chinese calendar. Likewise, “Medstudentitis” is the name given to the illness experienced by 79% of medical students who reported symptoms suggestive of the illnesses they were studying despite lack of exposure to the actual disease.
If I’m sleepless at Midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. – Psalm 63:6
The final entry in the BIG 10 – commandments that is – tells us that we should not desire the things our neighbor has. In the New Testament, James tells us that desiring the possessions of others leads to quarrels and fights that are unfitting the children of God. Obsessing over something that someone else has makes us miserable and altars our attitude toward the person we envy. This is antithetical to thanksgiving and unhealthy for our soul.
Envy is based on a myth: I must have more than you to be happy! – Rick Warren
There is none more miserable than one who lives only for themselves. Saint Paul taught a better way, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” People who spend time helping others quickly lose sight of their own perceived deficiencies and quickly discover that they are happier, healthier and better human beings. As a very good friend of mine, E’Vann Walker, used to say, “Be a person that people want to make time for.” I don’t know of any better way to accomplish that than being there for others.
We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. – Victor Frankl
This one may seem a little obvious since it is the polar opposite of being grateful, but it bears mentioning because we often just don’t realize that we are being that way. When someone does something nice, do we say, “Thank you”? When was the last time you left a note in your mailbox thanking the postal worker for their tireless dedication of getting your mail to you on a regular basis? When was the last time you thanked a teacher, parent, or mentor for the hours they spend working to make your life better? When was the last time you thanked an employee for trying hard even if the results didn’t quite work out the way you hoped? The benefits of moving from ungrateful to grateful are immeasurable – not only for you but for those you make feel appreciated.
There is no disaster that can’t become a blessing – Richard Bach
So there you have it, seven blockers that can prevent you from being a grateful person that lives, loves and experiences life better. For people who spend their days and nights searching for meaning and happiness, I close with one of my favorite quotes.
“If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that had rolled under the radiator striving for it as the goal itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of each day. – W. Beran Wolfe