In defense of public displays of gratitude

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by Debra Dane on August 26, 2014

in Authenticity & Self-awareness, Gratitude

I saw this article shared (funnily enough) on Facebook last week. It discusses the possibility that we have reached the “peak” of gratitude and called out the recent sharing of gratitude / positivity all over Facebook as basically inauthentic because it is not spontaneous, and tedious when you see the same things being mentioned.

I find it amazing how there is often a backlash against popular positive things. As if there is a right way to do it, that it needs to be for everyone or that it can be judged.

In this case I watched as people not only shared wonderful things in their status updates (crowding out the negative), but also connected and encouraged each other.

If your Facebook feed is filled with faux gratitude* along the lines of “I am so grateful I scored highest in my class” or “grateful for my new sports car and fab apartment” then perhaps the issue is who you choose to hang out with and follow.

I can understand getting sour about backhanded ego strokes ** but let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water.

I was tagged for 5 days of gratitude / positivity by my sister. It was hard for me to take up the challenge because it seemed to come along when I was having the shittiest of times.

Thankfully I know that when I find it hardest to express gratitude is when I need it the most.

Among sick kids, stress, solo parenting, one dog popping and peeing on my rug, the other dog ripping out the temporary fence hubby just installed to protect the lawn he was reseeding and more, I dug deep to find the positive each day.

Day 5 looked like this
“1. for soft tissues (my nose is still raw so i am glad i buy the nice thick fancy ones)
2. a warm bed to curl up in tonight as these extreme winds blow outside
3. a separate keyboard that works while my laptop keyboard is failing me”

So all the basics when everything feels like shit.

Nothing sentimental. Nothing boastful. Nothing, but digging deep to connect with anything that was the good among the yuck.

On day 6 I was able to get out of the house for my metalsmithing class (did not know that 2 days later my older child would fall sick and it would start all over again). On the way there I found myself singing along with my favourite songs, taking in the sky and clouds and, yes, expressing gratitude.

Without any external prompting that day I found my way back to naturally expressing gratitude and a more positive outlook.

I was genuinely happier and was grateful for the tunnel I was about to take and bypass the long queue of traffic still on the highway.

The feeling carried on and I knew that those 5 days had shifted that fog and crankiness.

That is the power of expressing your gratitude and digging deep.

So I say bring on all the 100 days of happy posts, 365 days of gratitude, 7 days of positivity or any other meme or project you want to put out there that helps people connect with what they have and how blessed we all really are.

Did you participate in this FB meme? Did you find it helpful? What are you grateful for today?

I am grateful for Jess hosting IBOT every week. I don’t know if I have ever expressed that to her so lots of love to you Jess, you rock Tuesdays!

Love and light
Deb xx

*the sensitive person I am would accept that this person needs some attention and that costs me nothing so I would give them a good click of the like button.

** the comments section on the article are filled with people slagging off participants, FB users in general and those who don’t do gratitude well enough to satisfy the critics.



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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Lydia C. Lee August 26, 2014 at 9:28 am

Playing devils advocate, why is it less valid to be grateful for being top of the class or for a fab car? If that’s what they are grateful for, is it less worthy of mentioning than all the people who said they were grateful for their partners or children? The exercise is not to meet approval, the exercise is to change how you view things, and if you thought your life was crappy cos you worked so hard, then decided to focus on the fab house that you got with the money from working so hard, instead of the crappy time in the office, then aren’t you fulfilling the task?
We all have different values on things. We had people over for lunch and we were all laughing at the guests’ sister who spent $12k on a lounge. How ridiculous to spend that much on a chair…but then I thought about it, and if I had that cash handy, I would drop it on a holiday without thinking about it. A lot of people would say how ridiculous because you have nothing to show for it at the end.
So while I will admit I’ve queried what people are thinking when they post their gratititude (and yes, rolled my eyes), my responses would probably evoke the same reaction to many too.
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Debra Dane August 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Oh I don’t think it is less valid. The commenters in the article I linked to seem to be saying that this is not really gratitude (hence the “faux”) but a way for those people to brag / boost their ego under the mask of gratitude.

I personally welcome every single expression of gratitude whatever the thing/ format etc. I truly believe it is a lie changer and when we see others express it isn’t it more likely we ourselves will be triggered to stop and give thanks as well. Xxxx
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pam August 26, 2014 at 11:24 am

Never occurred to me to think about what other people were grateful for. I did it even though several times I was so bloody cranky and overwhelmed with stuff, I really didn’t want to….and benefit of forcing myself into active gratitude was huge! Don’t understand all the negativity surrounding this at all x


Debra Dane August 26, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Exactly Pam. When we are cranky and overwhelmed we are stuck in the focus on how shit things are or how bad we have it. As soon as we shift to the focus on gratitude it deflates that balloon and we can see that we are still well off or have things to look forward to etc. and I enjoyed reading yours xxx
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Ingrid @fabulous and fun life August 26, 2014 at 11:47 am

It’s when we are having the shittiest of days that we get the most benefit and power of thinking about what we are truly grateful for.


Debra Dane August 26, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Amen ingrid. The more I resist it the more I know I need it, xxx
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EssentiallyJess August 26, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Oh thank you Deb! I am super grateful for your support every week. You’re such a gem. xx
I got nominated but didn’t do it. Only because I knew I would forget, and I do try to practise spontaneous gratitude anyway. I like you’re way of thinking though. You’ve got me reevaluating the way I look at things.
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Debra Dane August 31, 2014 at 11:08 pm

lol i did forget one day and made up for it the next. i am terrible about doing anything daily xxx
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Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me August 26, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I’ve seen a few of my friends in my newsfeed do this challenge and I’ve loved reading the results. It’s the simple things, like your soft tissues, that bring a smile to my face :)
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Debra Dane August 31, 2014 at 11:09 pm

it is the simple things indeed – we have so few big grand moments we really need to appreciate the hundreds of little ones xxx
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Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me August 27, 2014 at 9:49 am

I actually believe that making ourselves be grateful makes us be less cranky and get over our silly moans, of which I often have many. I need to start writing in my gratitude journal again, it’s been MONTHS!
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Debra Dane August 31, 2014 at 11:10 pm

definitely helps with the mood – i have actually started fresh with the gratitude kikki k journal from chantelle and loving it – 3 things each day just like the FB challenge xx so nice to see you this week em
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Annaleis August 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I think that when you consider where you are grateful its the things that make you feel that you write about. I still think we could show some more gratitude to the people around us.
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Debra Dane August 31, 2014 at 11:11 pm

agree – i am trying to remember to thank my hubby especially – so easy to take the day to day for granted xx
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Lizzy - Muddle-Headed Mamma August 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I’ve been focusing on practising gratitude lately and it’s amazing how it can lift my mood. I bought myself a journal and the first night I wrote in it, my aim was to think of ten things I was grateful for that day. It had been a really, really ordinary day, nothing special at all. Well in the end up getting 25 things on my list without even having to rack my brain too hard. Doing that regularly can really open our eyes to how blessed we are. I don’t have FB but I often hear people moaning about other people’s expressions of gratitude on FB. I just figure ‘live and let live’ :)
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Debra Dane August 31, 2014 at 11:13 pm

that is fabulous that you came up with such a huge list – enjoy your new practice xx
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Twitchy Sharon August 27, 2014 at 7:46 pm

I got tagged twice and forfeited twice, for *very* similar reasons to your own not wanting to initially – but I you did it anyway. I like your attitude- it’s,hard when you’re not ‘feeling it’ but mine would’ve been like: family safe, vodka, chocolate and sleep… So I figured I’d spare everyone that boredom!

One discomfort I think might be what subconsciously stops me is the obligation to complete it once tagged- then I’m never really comfortable tagging someone else, or they may even have just done it too and I don’t want to bother them. #teamIBOT
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Debra Dane August 31, 2014 at 11:14 pm

you know what if you posted that you were grateful for family safe, vodka and chocolate and sleep others would have connected with that too – a lot of the gratitude posts connect us, remind us of what we have and that includes goodies like vodka and chocolate and an appreciation for some sleep!
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