The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy. Henri Nouwen
How well disciplined are you?
Like I said last week, expressing gratitude doesn’t come easy for me. It takes conscious effort and awareness. I thought this was a personality deficit, that gratitude “should” come easy. What a relief to read from Fr. Nouwen that gratitude is a discipline. It is a habit that can be developed.
There is lots of information out there for anyone interested in seeking it describing the benefits of gratitude. To name a few, Gratitude:
- Makes us more optimistic
- Reduces materialism
- Increases spiritualism
- Makes us less self-centered
- Increases self-esteem
- Improves sleep
- Opens the door to more relationships
- Improves health, both physical and psychological
I can’t think of any good reason to not learn the discipline of gratitude. The challenge is to do it!
I started a Gratitude Journal and within a few days it went by the wayside. I got busy, life got chaotic, people died, we went to funerals, we got sick, Life happened, and the new habit that wasn’t a habit yet bit the dust. I know the reasons for developing gratitude as a way of life, but the doing of it is different.
Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter in their book Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts—Becoming the Person You Want to Be describe how within each of us there abides two people – the Planner and the Doer. The Planner makes all these great plans and expects the Doer to follow through. The Doer on the other hand, looks at the plans and may try, may rebel, may quit. The Planner didn’t “talk” it over with the Doer before committing to a course of action. The Doer didn’t have any input. Sound familiar?
Goldsmith’s remedy is to hire someone to call him every night and ask, “Did you do your best to____________? I get it! I’ve tried where I voluntarily call someone, but because the onus is on me, the call gets “forgotten”. Like Goldsmith’s Doer, my Doer doesn’t follow the plan. Is there anyone out there with a similar problem?
Would you like to develop your Gratitude discipline? Would you like a partner? Email me and let’s make some kind of arrangement. I’d love the support and I love supporting others to develop their Gratitude discipline. Contact me at email@example.com Maybe we can make a game of it? Develop a group of us? Who knows? The possibilities are endless!
FYI: Henri Nouwen, January 24, 1923 – September 21, 1996, was a professor, writer, theologian and Catholic priest. He taught at University of Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School until he went to live and work with the mentally and physically handicapped people at L’Arche Daybreak community in Ontario.