I see now that my view of gratitude is only partially complete. One aspect of gratitude I’ve been unaware of is the sense of the Other.
According to Watkins (2014), there are “three pillars of gratitude” that describe the attitudes of grateful people:
- A sense of abundance (or negatively, a lack of a sense of deprivation)
- An appreciation for simple pleasures, and
- An appreciation for others (or social appreciation)
As in my previous post, I usually initiate a sense of gratitude by telling myself “it could be worse”. In my morning journaling where I write three things I’m grateful for, I try to focus on the simplest things, e.g. a comfortable bed, a warm bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, the birds chirping outside, that Mt Wellington view outside my window, wifi. These are linked to the first two pillars of gratitude, but I did not see showing appreciation for others as a form of gratitude even though I already do it unconsciously.
I’m reminded of a Tim Ferriss podcast interview with Adam Robinson who shares his secret for success – a focus on delighting the Other:
If you focus on creating delight for the Other, then you can get “magic and miracles”. By focusing on the Other, it gives you infinite power because “you want nothing and offer everything”. Essentially you’re playing a game you cannot lose. Similarly, there’s a quote from Tony Robins which is, “suffering is an excessive focus on yourself”.
I wonder how much difference it makes in positivity/happiness whether or not you recognise you are practicing gratitude when you show appreciation to others or are just doing it unconsciously. However, I feel that perhaps one way this awareness could make a difference is that I can start to apply it to situations I don’t usually see as applicable e.g. nervousness and fear for public-speaking opportunities. I could see it as I want nothing than to give attendees of my presentation a good and engaging time!
p.s. except in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu where my coach says “Give nothing and take everything (i.e. your opponents limbs)”.
Watkins, P. C. (2014). Gratitude and the Good Life.