There’s a widely held assumption that gratitude leaves us feeling complacent. If we’re comfortable with life, we’ll feel no need to achieve more. And also have no need to set goals, right?
But the opposite is true. Gratitude doesn’t make us complacent. Instead, it increases our efforts in the pursuit of goals. There are several reasons for this, all of which have to do with resiliency. And I’ve never met anyone who wins very much for very long without resiliency.
Here are three ways gratitude makes us resilient:
- Gratitude keeps us hopeful. Our circumstances often look a certain way, but they don’t stay that way. While they might be bad at the moment, they can also be better. Our life’s stories remind us of that. When we take notice of the distance between where we’ve been and where we are now, gratitude emerges, as well as a hope for what could yet be. Gratitude keeps us optimistic and enables us to keep showing up when life throws obstacles in our way.
- Gratitude reminds us we have agency. We have the power to act and effect change in our lives. Because a lot of gratitude is about giving thanks for what others have done for us, this might seem counterintuitive. But if we don’t use our agency to receive and act on what others have done for us, we won’t benefit. We express our gratitude when we’re good stewards of what’s been given to us and put it to use.
- Gratitude expands our possible responses. When we operate from a scarcity mindset, we’re more likely to be reactionary, closed off, tightfisted, or even mean. Gratitude moves us from that into a place of abundance. We’re more resourceful, creative, generous, optimistic, and kind. Most of us know this from our lived experience. In general, we perform better and respond better to what comes our way when we’re grateful.
Regardless of our individual circumstances, we can all affirm resources, blessings, and gifts in our lives. Of course, there are countless things we don’t have or things that haven’t happened but we wish had. But there are also countless things we do have. No matter our past, looking at life through the lens of gratitude helps us rediscover how full the present is. It has the potential to amplify all that is good in our lives.
What are some things you’re grateful for in your life that have recently gone unnoticed?