Is Gratitude A Selfish Practice?
Gratitude might seem like it is a selfish practice that only counts the blessings that we already have and even sometimes considers others not as lucky as we are – just think of how many times someone told you you should be grateful for the food on your table because other do not have it. That is introducing a negative aspect into your life, while at the same time, makes you look down upon the situation of another, rather than feeling empathetic. A gratitude practice like that, is neither helpful nor compassionate, even if it seems to so on the service, as it only highlights the plight of others.
However, if you are choosing to use gratitude as an altruistic tool, it becomes an uplifting experience not only for you but for whoever receives the energy and attention from it.
Examples of Altruistic Gratitude
- You are at a restaurant, and the waiter is being extra helpful to a table next to you, an older person or child needed extra attention and they received it. Immediately and specifically thank the waiter for doing such a beautiful and kind job, and make sure that this praise is heard by others, not because it showcases your ability for being grateful, but it boosts the attention that a person gets for being a good person and doing the right thing. You have now given gratitude in a completely selfless way – which in turn, does make you feel good.
- Your child is struggling to study for a difficult exam, and even if he or she does not get the answers correctly, you recognize the effort that they are putting into the situation. You immediately praise the effort and show your appreciation for their focus and resilience. You could have gotten frustrated with the fact that they did not get this seemingly easy concept, but instead, you focused on sharing gratitude for the fact that they are trying, and therefore you are boosting their motivation to try even harder. You both won.
Therefore, if you were held back by the notion that making a list of things to be grateful for might be only a selfish act of taking stock, you may want to try to incorporate more and more of the deliberate act of altruistic gratitude.