Why aren’t people, especially Americans and Canadians, more grateful?
This question makes the assumption that the majority of people in North America are not grateful, but I would argue that this is not the case. I would propose instead, that most people are simply not conscious of their own gratitude. Our culture is not set up in a way that asks us to stop and be mindful of how we are feeling. We are often focused on the negative, what is going wrong, what can be better, what needs fixing. We rush through our days unaware of our body and feelings, consumed with our work. How often have you closed your laptop after hours of typing, only to notice that you desperately need to go to the bathroom, drink water and eat something all at the same time? If we can so easily forget that we have a body, it is simple to see how we can also forget to notice the things we have to be grateful for. Gratitude has been relegated in our culture to something that is mostly noticed at holidays or special occasions.
Photo credit: Robert Walsh © 2015
So I propose an experiment to see if my answer to this question is correct, which is not that we need to be more grateful, but simply that we need to not take the time to notice and name all of the things we are already grateful for. Tonight when you go home to be with your family, or tomorrow at your place of work, ask a family member or co-worker to name one thing they are grateful for. It could be something small from that day (a smile from a stranger on the street, the sun shining), or something big from their lives (a supportive friend, the birth of a child). Go around the dinner table or the boardroom table and write these gratitudes down on sticky notes and post them around the room so that they may be reminder that we are in fact surrounded by invisible gratitude all the time.
Mindfulness teaches us that we have everything we need to be happy right now, that we are surrounded in every moment with things to be grateful for, we just need to stop, breath and notice.
by Elli Weisbaum