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April 26, 2023

A Better Way to Practice Gratitude

We’ve all heard this before — Be grateful for what you have because there are people living with less.

At first glance, this sounds normal. If you’re reading this on a computer or smartphone, you probably have more than most people. There’s a lot we can be grateful for — but is relating it to others the best way to do it?

As a rule, anything that involves comparing ourselves to others is rarely healthy.

When we compare in the lens of gratitude, we’re practicing guiltitude — we’re consciously or subconsciously guilting ourselves to feel thankful.

During the pandemic I heard people say, “I should feel grateful for my job because others lost theirs.”

What if they don’t actually feel grateful? What if their job is killing them, and they hate it?

Gratitude is not an obligation. 

Bypassing the feeling because they should feel grateful is not helping the underlying issue.

The real power of gratitude lies in feeling the energy of appreciation at the core of our being. From there, we know viscerally the blessing of what’s holding our attention.

The thing with guiltitude is we can’t know how others “with less” actually feel. Happiness is not measured by what you have.

Everything is relative.

Everything is subjective.

We might be suffering with depression yet trying to be grateful because we have more money than some people, while all the while, those people may be doing much better than we are!

If anything, our gratitude should be compared to ourselves.

When Texas froze over in February, people lost access to water and power. They can now understand the gratitude for basic necessities without imagining others that don’t have them.

In December and January, I had a bout of insomnia. It gave me a new understanding and appreciation for a good night’s rest. I could never feel the gratitude I have now by just thinking about those who can’t sleep. I needed to have the challenge myself.

Let’s stop feeling the need to be grateful because of someone else’s perceived suffering.

Let’s be grateful because it’s a beautiful emotion that leads to well-being.

Let’s be grateful because each moment is precious and an opportunity for us to celebrate the fullness of life.

Let’s be grateful for what we have. Period.

While there’s nothing wrong with practicing gratitude in comparison, (It’s better than being dissatisfied and resentful) this way is more empowering.

Don’t take my word for it. If your gratitude practice has always been thinking about others who have less, try focusing solely on yourself, keeping the gratitude emerging from your own experience.

To help, here’s my most popular meditation on Insight Timer: Morning Meditation: Gratitude & Abundance

I’d love to hear how it goes. 🙂

Song: Black As NightI’ll probably share many Nahko songs with you, but this is one of my faves. “I believe in the good things coming” is kind of my personal anthem.

Grateful for you!

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