“I have a hard time with gratitude,” I told Nancy as we were walking. I described a bit of my thinking.
“Do you think it’s part of the ‘I can do it myself’ mindset?” she asked. It was a good question.
We’ve talked here about the the difficulty of asking for help (“The risk of asking for help“). I wonder whether our drive to do things ourselves affects our ability to experience and express gratitude. If I feel an obligation to do it myself, if I feel guilty for inconveniencing other people, will I be more or less likely to be grateful when others help?
So I’d like to suggest an experiment for us this weekend. I want us to spend an hour making a list of the things we are grateful for.
Here are some groundrules.
You have to write (or type). I think that the visceral nature of writing with pen on paper keeps this process grounded.
You have to set a timer and spend an hour. It will be grueling.
You can write words, sentences, pictures.
You can promise yourself to shred it when you are done. You may not want anyone else to read it.
If you identify something that makes you then feel guilty for not measuring up, give yourself permission to say, “Whatever” and move on. (For example, some of us find the following thinking very familiar: “I’m grateful for all the time Beth has spent encouraging me. Oh my. I owe her so much. I bet she thinks I’m such a failure. I wonder how I can make it up to her.” At that moment say “whatever” and go back to your list. You can make the guilt list later.)
If you get stuck, use the following prompts:
I am grateful for…
I am grateful to…
I am grateful that…
I am grateful when…
Ask God to help you see what you might be missing.
That’s it. An hour of vulnerability with your ego. Let us know how it goes.