Why Bother Being Grateful for Mistakes?

Why Bother Being Grateful for Mistakes?

Though we were created for relationships, some days it is tough being around other human beings. For instance, just this last week, without meaning to, I managed to offend two people then, without wanting to, I was offended by a few others. Though I know that moving to a deserted island is out of the question, I find that thought crossing my mind at times. 

Reconciling with Gratitude

Once upon a time, I began a gratitude journal and challenged myself to keep a list of the things for which I was grateful. Soon enough though, this record became redundant and I quit writing down the blessings I found in my everyday life. Yet, this short lived drill did do something for me. It helped me to reflect not only on the things that made me grateful but that gratitude is a state of being. It can become my response to the people, circumstances and every day missteps that occur on any given day. 

To set my sights on having perfect relationships, never being offended, or never offending another is an unrealistic expectation. And though I focus on being kind, caring, empathetic, aware, and fully present in the moment, sometimes things still go awry. I lose my focus, am misunderstood or react impatiently. Can I still show gratitude in these awkward, uncomfortable, and tense moments? 

If gratitude is a response to the people and circumstances that surround me, then I believe I can learn to be grateful even in the midst of the most awkward situation. Not immediately of course, but with practice.

When misunderstood, in the moment of being offended, or when I know I’ve made a mistake, I admit, my first response is not one of being thankful. Instead, I get miffed, blindsided and exasperated. It is only later, when I’ve had time to sort through my initial emotions, that I find a few treasures for which I can be grateful. 

First, I am thankful that my awareness level is growing. It no longer takes me days, weeks or months to figure out where I went wrong. This means that it takes me less time to amend my blunder. An apology might be in order, a note to self to do something differently, or simply not allowing my bad move to hold me hostage for the rest of my life are simple ways to right myself. 

Secondly, mistakes cause me to reflect, reconsider and reach out for help. I have a group of people who know me well enough to keep me accountable. When I’ve been snarky, they tell me. When my approach needs to be softer, they let me know. If I am at fault, they will point it out. 

I am grateful for this supportive group of close friends. 

Why bother being grateful for our mistakes? Life is not perfect and neither are we. But we can be grateful for our mistakes because if we let them, they can teach us to respond with gratitude. 

Why Bother Thinking About Gratitude?

Why Bother Thinking About Gratitude?

Is gratitude an emotion, a skill, a virtue, an attitude or a disposition? We feel grateful when someone is kind toward us, but we won’t notice someone’s kindness unless we have the ability to pay attention to other people. Some may say they were born with a good nature and gratitude comes natural for them. Others may share how practicing gratitude has become a habit and now they have an attitude of gratitude. However it shows up in our lives, gratefulness makes us a better person.

The Domino Effect of Gratitude

 Gratitude is immeasurable and at the same time renewable. Unlike a well that runs dry, our source for gratitude does not. Gratefulness begins by thinking about gratitude. What are we grateful for? Who are we thankful for? We can begin our mental list first thing in the morning and continue it throughout the day only to begin a new list the next day. Counting our blessings makes us aware of the blessings that we can count. They are innumerable since new blessings accompany each new day.  

 Gratitude is attractive. It nurtures and deepens old friendships and helps us start new ones. When I consider the choice to spend time with someone who counts their blessings as opposed to spending time with someone who counts their burdens, I will choose the one who counts their blessings. Those who are more mindful of their troubles than they are of the goodness in life are inconsolable souls. Worries, inconveniences, and burdens are just as numerous as the good gifts we are given each day. But ruminating on our troubles only brings out the worst in us—agitation, a sour countenance, and bitterness. Though gratefulness can be contagious, there are those who have built up their immunity to it. 

It has been said that gratitude is a moral barometer. When we notice we’ve benefited from another’s moral actions, and validate their deed with a word of gratitude, that moral character is more likely to continue. A grateful person who reinforces honesty, decency and ethical practices in others will likely help morality to grow in their community and their workplace.  

Finally, gratefulness reminds us to never take anything for granted. Although I have a job and my health today, I am not guaranteed my job or my health tomorrow. Being grateful for what I have today makes me appreciative and mindful for the goodness found in this particular day.  

Why bother thinking about gratitude? It doesn’t matter if we think about gratitude as an emotion, a skill, a virtue, an attitude or a disposition as long as we think about it.