The Gratitude Advantage

When disaster strikes, gratitude provides a perspective from which we can view life in its entirety and not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances – Robert Emmons. 

Shortages and Outages

Over 3.5 billion people use Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp to communicate with families, friends, customers, and businesses. When the apps unexpectedly went down for five hours in October, a major disruption ensued. Heavy reliance on these apps by businesses led to significant losses during the time frame. Losing a vital connective pipeline to families and friends created an uneasy feeling for those who depend on these apps to stay in touch. A few days ago, YouTube and Gmail experienced outages that affected access, mainly in Europe. Power outages are also being reported in multiple places, causing shortages in the economic supply chain. Ranging from heating oil to groceries, shortages are becoming the norm. Additionally, shortages in the workforce in multiple industries are reaching alarming levels. 

Such information causes a gloomy outlook on the future. Questions and fears arise as we wonder what the future holds if these instances turn into regular occurrences. This tinderbox of events can lead to anxiety and depression. One way to keep the gauge of our thoughts from the debilitating effect of bad news is by developing the gratitude advantage. The shortages and outages we experience should not edge out our decision to remain grateful. Gratitude has a profound effect on our overall physical, mental, and social well-being. It is difficult to stay around someone who regularly complains. Relationships fracture when complaining is prolific. The best approach to times of shortages and outages is gratitude. In the maelstrom of life, the gratitude advantage prevents emotional and mental bankruptcy. 

The Gratitude Advantage

The gratitude advantage is an encouragement to invest in words and actions of gratitude, especially in hard times. A few years ago, the men’s group in my church was traveling to West Virginia for a weekend retreat.  Miles into our trip, an accident caused traffic, and we were stuck. As I thought about how this traffic would set back our arrival time, my friend Samson fiddled with his phone then uttered, “We can take the exit, go around the traffic, and be on our way.” While I was zoomed into the traffic and its negative effect, Samson zoomed out on his phone and discovered a different route. Correspondingly, the gratitude advantage keeps us from zooming in to focus solely on current events but enables us to zoom out and see a wider view and take the route of gratitude. 

A Mindset Not a Feeling

Experiencing the effect of gratitude does not require a change in our circumstances. A shift in perspective is what’s needed. Like a camera has narrow and wide shot features, our minds have narrow and wide perspective settings. Choosing the latter over the former in times of shortages and outages is a prime way to establish a lifestyle of gratitude. A narrow perspective locks out gratitude and its benefits, while a panoramic view looks at life from its entire topography, not just the temporary circumstances that tempt us to complain and grumble. 

The gratitude advantage is not governed by a feeling but rather a mindset. It is a daily choice to find the route of gratitude in the traffic of life that is rife with shortages and outages. Robert Emmons, author of Gratitude Works! states, “being grateful is a prevailing attitude that endures and is relatively immune to the gains and losses that flow in and out of our lives.” Emmons goes on to remind us, “Thanksgiving Day was born and grew out of hard times. The first Thanksgiving took place after nearly half the pilgrims died from a rough winter and year. It became a national holiday in 1863 in the middle of the Civil War and was moved to its current date in the 1930s following the Great Depression.” Gratitude is a perennial way of life that works regardless of the seasons we encounter.

Final Thought: In hard times, gratitude should be constant, not intermittent. The grid of gratitude should continually pulsate with thoughts and actions that reflect a thankful heart. As we enter the last month of the year, can you look back and write ten things you are grateful for? Can you locate three to five people in your life and mention one thing you are grateful for them being in your life? These infant steps towards the gratitude advantage will benefit your life immensely.

Keep on keeping on!



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