Thursday, January 19, 2017

Gratitude: What's In It For Me?

I was struck recently by an NPR article entitled, "Feeling Less Grateful? Some People Are Just Wired That Way."

The article asks whether gratitude is really as beneficial as so many claim.

Wait a minute. Stop and think about that.

Is there something in gratitude for me? If so, great. I'll cultivate some thanksgiving. If not, then I shouldn't beat myself up if I don't value or practice it that much.

A few sound bites:
...not everyone experiences gratitude as a positive force in their life. ... 
Does that mean that people who experience gratitude as negative should push through it anyway in pursuit of some benefit? "That's a big 'I don't know,'" says [Anthony] Ahrens [professor of psychology at American University]. "We will need data to answer that." ... 
Gratitude is clearly associated with physical and mental well-being. It's linked to better sleep. People who are more grateful seem to have more energy, less depression and possibly even a lower risk of heart disease. Those positive associations hold for both the trait of gratitude — that is, being a generally grateful person — and the state of gratitude — a temporary behavior or feeling, says Philip Watkins, a professor of psychology at Eastern Washington University. But, some of the broader claims about the benefits of gratitude aren't backed up by science, says Watkins.
Basically, the article is saying we need more data to better assess the real value of gratitude. It seems beneficial. Some studies seem to make that clear. But if it turns out that the claims are inflated, then by all means let's stop blowing so much hot air about how important gratitude is to our well-being.

So, the question seems to be, "What is the real street value of gratitude?"

Leave it to our narcissistic, neuropsychology-is-king generation to come up with this crazy utilitarian approach to gratitude.

Then again, if there is no God-from-whom-all-blessings-flow, whether you give thanks or not is really a matter of what's in it for you.

Just don't let the irony escape you.

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