One of the lessons I always encourage my audiences to embrace, and that I try to take within my own heart, is the concept of Gratitude. I am constantly reminding my family of how blessed we are and that it is of the utmost importance that we never take it for granted. Most of us are fortunate in various aspects of our daily lives. Yet, I frequently encounter people who do not seem to be happy with even the simplest of life’s joys. Recently, an attendee at one of my programs approached me after my presentation and said, “Steve, doesn’t it seem that our grandparents and parents were a lot more thankful than we are?”
I must admit that my first inclination was to differ politely with her opinion, but then I began to think about it a little more deeply. She may have been on to something. It’s not that we lack gratitude, but we are surrounded by walls and mountains of “clutter” that make it more difficult to be grateful and happy for the simplest of life’s pleasures.
Too Blessed To Be Stressed
It seems the attendee who approached me wasn’t alone in this idea of a loss of gratitude. In fact, after a lot of thought on the subject, I tend to agree. For example, our grandparents weren’t worried about Facebook. A recent article appearing in Psychology Today by Dr. Douglas Kenrick, entitled “7 Ways Facebook Is Bad for Your Mental Health,” lists the top three reasons that Facebook causes many people problems:
As a public figure, I use Facebook to inspire people who have “Liked” me after hearing me speak; however, my wife uses it to stay in touch with her “Friends.” She often shows me the posts of many of her Facebook Friends, who are always apparently trying to convince her how unruffled their lives are, how successful they are and how my wife should believe everything they believe because, after all, who can argue with their good fortune! It’s pretty hard to compete with that! If we listen to all of that chatter as truth, we can feel downright ungrateful. After all, something must be terribly wrong with us because we’re not perfect like they are. In reality, you too are well-off, but you allow someone else’s overstated definition of themselves to create anxiety. You are too blessed to be stressed.
The Twisted Truth
Throw in Reality TV and your view of yourself becomes even more misleading. However, before you become too ingrained into believing your normal life is simple and boring, be mindful of the fact that numerous online sources have run investigations on these popular shows. For example, the website TheRichest.com lists House Hunters International, Storage Wars, Duck Dynasty and Master Chef as being highly fictitious. We get fooled into believing that all of the “common people” we see on these shows have incredible lives filled with success and travel and get-rich-quick schemes. The truth is, the shows are staged, heavily edited and commercially endorsed to support an outcome.
Let’s not forget the big promises made by advertising. We see images of athletes gulping liquids that turn them into ripped physical specimens, 80-year-old men on natural therapies who lift weights like 25-year-olds, and women who are promised that certain creams and skin potions will turn them into goddesses. Then there are all those diet plans and weight loss supplements! Instead of being incredibly humbled and thankful for the gift of good health we have been granted, some of us are angry because we can’t be perfect “like they are.” We become dissatisified and forget the images we see are of models and the art of Photoshop.
The Simple Things
Finally, there are our devices. We all use them; we are all convinced we can’t live without them. Our grandparents had no such distractions and clutter. Grandpa stood by a rushing stream on a sunny day and felt happy just to dip his foot in the water. Grandma sat on the front porch knitting, her biggest worry being tangled yarn. Today, many folks never even see the stream, hence, missing its natural beauty! They completely miss the joyful experience of simply being alive. Sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, with your favorite beverage, with no devices, is the purest indulgence that can be appreciated.
Gratitude is a powerful thing. To be grateful is to appreciate and understand how precious and unique our lives truly are. Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have. I have heard many speakers and authors state that the glass is either half full or half empty. I don’t believe it matters. I am grateful that I have a glass and that there is something in it. My life is far from perfect, but I am thankful for everything I have. Each one of us is pretty special, so take the time to celebrate yourself.