Gratitude is Not Just For Tough Times

Why is it when times are tough we tend to be:

  • More grateful for what we have;
  • More understanding of others;
  • Less likely to fly off the handle at someone; and
  • Less likely to spend our resources on anything but our highest priorities?

We all know that difficulties create stress. Interestingly, many of us also realize (if only subconsciously) that increased gratitude, respect, and understanding are effective ways to reduce stress.

An ongoing study tracking the personal strengths of Americans found an immediate increase in gratitude after September 11, 2001. No one said, let’s all be more grateful – it just happened. The same thing is occurring today. The news is filled with stories about increased appreciation, tolerance, and patience.

Many of the constructive feelings that are evoked by steep drops in the stock market, rising unemployment, and ever more frequent natural disasters would be even more apropos in times of plenty. Yet we forget and levels of gratitude drop. We become less tolerant, more certain that our success is entirely our own doing, and less likely to reach out to others in need.

Imagine what would happen if gratitude, understanding, and respect grew year after year in good times and bad. Imagine opening the Wall Street Journal and seeing a chart tracking gratitude that was just as at home as the charts tracking the market.

If levels of these virtues remained high in good times and bad, there is little doubt we would see greater improvements in personal health, decreased crime, and even greater accomplishments. When we get out of our present mess, let’s do our best and not forget the values of gratitude, respect, and understanding.