The Gratitude Gap

The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan

It is exciting to live a life on the edge with no boundaries from time-to-time; there is something cheap, but also thrilling about going against the order of life.

But what about that kick you get from giving thanks to others, or simply being true to yourself? As much as we would like to deny it, perhaps we all default to a“safe” mode, which keeps us comfortable yet prevents us from expounding our emotions. In such a sheltered state, we are not permitted to pursue a soulful purpose in life. Janice Kaplan, journalist and New York Times best-selling author of “The Gratitude Dairies,” suggests sharing gratitude for a more positive outlook on life.

After overseeing a John Templeton Foundation national survey on gratitude, she discovered that most people say they are grateful, but less than half of them put forth effort to express that gratitude. What we have in society is a ‘Gratitude Gap.’ So why is it that something that can easily make us happier, we decline to do?

Is it the tendency that was, perhaps unfortunately, passed down through our parents? That worrying and negativity is a part of life? Kaplan highlights a key fact from her pledge to bemore grateful and look on the brighter side of everything: “It is all in the power of perspective and how you view every situation. The events that occur in our life don’t make us happy or sad, it is clearly how we view them.” Kaplan, after a year of practiced gratitude, realized a new sense of fulfillment and personal happiness.

When you move beyond outward emotions and toward self-examination, the floodgates open. Being honest about a feeling is frightening, sure, but being open about who you truly are and what you stand for yields a slow-release of contentment. It comes from what Kaplan explained during her presentation at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco: you must allow your true identity to flourish — whether in social media, politics, relationships, or spirituality — it is your birthright to express gratitude. The connections you create, with others as well as yourself, through a more honest way of living make the risks of breaking through those fear barriers more rewarding. By just being in the moment and living as authentically as we can in all moments, we can experience the real meaning behind what gratitude stands for, and that is truly exhilarating. By focusing on what and who we are thankful for, we can learn to love ourselves more and destroy the walls of doubt that obstruct us from being the amazing people we were born to be.  

Kaplan recommends beginning with a daily expression of gratitude. Perhaps starting with your family on social media, posting photos, quotes, and thankful moments from your day. A tool for this on Facebook is “Moments,” which allows users to share photos privately with other users. It becomes a habit, and an expression that is not seen as pushy, rather as a genuine connection to others. Use hashtags such as #blessed, #gratitudechat, and #thankfulforthis to pass on your moments of thankfulness. Take it a step further and give thanks to a friend, family member, or company, and watch how you feel; if you feel it, they will too.

Gratitude never ends. Perhaps the biggest challenge is simply starting, but the good news is that once you start the process, it will become easier, and once you learn how to do it, you will never be same. — article submitted by Doris Hobbs, of Rich in Love

— Related: More Red Carpet Bay Area articles by Doris Hobbs