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This Thanksgiving, give others a helping of gratitude

Esther J. Cepeda on

According to Emmons, entitlement is the opposite of gratitude. So if you can't see yourself as someone who is grateful, try considering whether you'd rather be seen as entitled -- a character trait that usually pairs well with "jerk."

"An entitlement attitude says, 'life owes me something' or 'people owe me something' or 'I deserve this,'" Emmons said. "It comes from a focus on the self rather than others. In all its manifestations, a preoccupation with the self can cause us to forget our benefits and our benefactors or to feel that we are owed things from others and therefore have no reason to feel thankful."

Yuck, that definitely doesn't sound like the kind of person any one of us wants to be. Self-absorption is another one -- no one in their right mind would want to be described that way.

To counter this, Emmons says, you must continually think about the people who have done things for you that you would never have been able to do for yourself. Another way to cultivate gratitude is to think about all the people who you take for granted. Make a mental list of all those who take care of you or make your life easier -- and be thankful for them.

The last pro tip Emmons offered was, perhaps, the most important:

"Those who fail to feel gratitude cheat themselves out of their experience of life. And why would we want to cheat ourselves? Why would be want to become victims when we can empower ourselves to choose our own attitudes and thus emotional states? A very wise person once said, 'If there is any day in our life that is not Thanksgiving Day, then we are not fully alive.' Gratitude is simply too good to be left at the Thanksgiving table."

 

Amen to that.

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Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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