3 Gratitude Mistakes That Can Actually Decrease Your Happiness

genuine happiness Feb 21, 2021
woman who made a mistake


Gratitude is one of the most powerful happiness boosters available to each and every single one of us on any given day. Yet some of us don’t exercise our choice to practice gratitude. Perhaps our awareness isn’t at the point where it can recognize the option of a grateful mindset amidst life’s challenges, and that is okay. Others of us do practice gratitude yet make some mistakes along the way. After engaging in conversations with hundreds of people about the ways to make gratitude work for them, I readily noticed patterns in the habits that lead gratitude to be less effective than it ought to be– and that is what I want to share with you today.


(I speak LIVE every week about how to develop greater happiness in yourself, your relationships, and your life in The Happiness Hub, my exclusive virtual community for all heart-centered happiness-seekers and makers. Have you joined us?)


The 3 gratitude mistakes that aren’t making you any happier and that can actually make you a bit unhappier:


1. Being too broad.


When it comes to gratitude, the joy is in the detail. So, when you practice gratitude, don’t simply settle for broad generalities, saying “I’m grateful for my home”... “my friend”... “my car.” Be specific about it and really hone in on the detail. The result will be that you will have a much more genuine and pronounced experience of gratitude when you consciously bring to mind the specifics of what your friend did for you and means to you than when you simply say or write down that you’re grateful for your friend.


Consider these two examples:


Add a bit of detail and “I’m grateful for my best friend” becomes “I am grateful that my best friend listened with such acceptance when I shared my work challenges with her yesterday”


Add a bit of detail and “I’m grateful for the barista at Starbucks” becomes “I am grateful how the barista at Starbucks remembers my name and the particular way that I like my coffee”.


Can you feel the difference?


2. Trying to be grateful for everything.


One of the secrets to practicing gratitude in a way that works wonders for your happiness is to be grateful for what you find it easy to be grateful for, look a little deeper for those opportunities for gratitude that you may be missing, and then leave all the rest. One of the best ways, then, for gratitude to go from a happiness-booster to a happiness-killer is to try and encourage yourself to be grateful for everything. Sure, you can be grateful that you got fired by the boss that you didn’t have much respect for because it led you to new, amazing opportunities that felt so much better, but the gratitude may not happen right away. And sure, you can be grateful for your parents pressuring you to work hard in school because it led you to be an important contribution to people and practices of the world but sometimes it takes a few years or a few decades to get to that feeling of gratitude.


So, whatever you do, don’t rush gratitude. Don’t effort gratitude. Don’t labor gratitude. Gratitude is only effective at making you a genuinely happier human being when it itself is genuine too. So, start where you are, find what you can be grateful for, reach a little further from there, open up your eyes and find a few new things to be grateful for, and then stop. Gratitude for those other people, things, and experiences that you find it hard to be grateful for won’t come until sometime later, or it won’t come at all, and that is a-okay. You have my assurance of that.


3. Thinking about gratitude, rather than feeling it.


Gratitude is an experience of the heart, not of the mind, and thinking about gratitude is not enough. You’ve got to feel it. It’s the felt sense of gratitude, or the felt sense of anything for that matter, that is instrumental to its positive influence. Positive and health psychological researchers refer to this as an affective experience and more than the concept or word of gratitude, it’s this affective experience that gives gratitude its transformative power.

Gratitude is an experience of the heart, not of the mind, and thinking about gratitude is not enough. You’ve got to feel it.

So really feel the emotion. Sincerely. Fully. You might not be used to doing it this way. You might be used to writing a superficial list and it might take some effort at first, but I urge you to give it a try. Give it your emotional all by opening your heart to what it is you are grateful for. Pause and look for that feeling beneath the words and sentences that express your gratitude.

When I think of what prevents true gratitude from arising, I think of the times in the past when I tried to force it. The key is to not try and force the feeling of gratitude. That defeats the whole purpose. Simply gratefully experience life as it unfolds and you’ll have yourself a happier life. No thought or effort required.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras sed sapien quam. Sed dapibus est id enim facilisis, at posuere turpis adipiscing. Quisque sit amet dui dui.

Call To Action

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.