I am not a gratitude machine

I am not a gratitude machine

As much as I am a proponent of gratitude, I have not mastered my practice. I believe in the power and have the desire, yet find myself falling short of my own expectations.


We (mostly) agree that gratitude is good

Gratitude, the act of being thankful and appreciative, is almost universally recognized as a ‘good thing’. It has been shown to have a positive impact on everything from mental health to your career.

I was a bit surprised to find 621,000 results for ‘the downside of gratitude’ (compared to 43 million for benefits) – but most seem to center on when gratitude is taken to the extreme. So nearly 70 to 1, being grateful is good for us.


If gratitude is so great, why don’t I do it more?

I believe in gratitude. When I do it, it improves my relationships, and I enjoy expressing my appreciation to others. And I certainly like it when people thank me!

The problem is, I don’t do it regularly. I’m there mentally, and haven’t figured out how to develop a habit, which would theoretically be the key to my becoming a gratitude machine.

To build a habit, I need to identify the trigger, and have a routine that it sparks each time. The reward is that I feel good, and that the recipient enjoys receiving it. Without it, I’m inconsistent at best. Thanks to Charles Duhigg for cementing this loop in my brain.


Habits are hard

With a single exception, I haven’t mastered a sustained habit. The one regular practice is that my husband and I close our weekly family meeting with appreciation, saying thank you or acknowledging things from the past week.

The shortfall is that the meeting is on Sunday, and I have a recency bias. I remember things that happened for the past few days, but struggle to look back to earlier in the week.

I tried to counteract this by noting things I was grateful for during the week and using that list on Sunday – but the outcome was I would think – oh, I should write this in my log for Sunday, and then not actually do it. Another failed habit loop. So, same outcome plus some frustration.


Maybe the answer is patience

I don’t have my answer yet. Maybe its okay to not have a fully documented bullet journal of gratitude. Perhaps the first step is just noticing and wanting to do more. Transforming into a well-oiled gratitude machine can come later.


Gratitude requires habits