i finished the book called 'thanks' by robert emmons. it is an exploration of the science of happiness. emmons is making the case for the measurable positive value of gratitude in human psychology. he goes beyond the idea that being thankful is nice, polite, or appropriate and argues forcefully that it is essential for mental health and for a civil society. i had posted some quotes and notes from the first half so here are some more from the second half (mostly chapter 5). i'm thankful for this book and increasingly aware of my ingratitude...i'm working on it and i hope those of you around me in community can keep me accountable to my desire for deeper gratitude.
ch. 5 - obstacles to gratitude
negativity bias - "some of us simply wouldn't know how to manage our lives without complaints and resentments. we've been accustomed to a pattern of negativity. we wonder if we can afford the luxury of gratefulness."
"the truth is that, in the absence of conscious efforts to build and sustain a grateful world view, we lapse into negative emotional patterns, including taking goodness for granted. the upshot is that this natural default tendency must be overridden by conscious processes. without a conscious intervention, we are held hostage by an information-processing system that appears bent on maximizing our emotional distress and minimizing positive experience." (p.128)
the inability to acknowledge dependency - "we (especially in this society) do not like to think of ourselves as indebted. we would rather see our good fortunes as our own doing (whereas the losses and sufferings are not our own fault). like the emotion of trust it involves an admission of our vulnerability and our dependence on other people." (p.130)
internal psychological conflicts - "many of us struggle to express intimate, positive emotions - especially to a person that has hurt us."
"in long standing relationships where partners inevitable hurt each other, one of the greatest gifts that partners can give each other is the gift of forgiveness." (p.135)
inappropriate gift giving - "the gift relationship...is one of the most morally laden relationships that human beings have."
"gifts can be unwelcome burdens. gifts may be used to control the receiver and to guarantee his or her loyalty. a gift that is lavishly disproportionate to what is appropriate to the relationship between giver and receiver will produce resentment, guilt, anger, a sense of obligation, or even humiliation." (p.136)
comparison thinking - "i wish i was...Vs...i'm glad i'm not" "we need to choose our comparisons wisely. epicurus wrote, 'do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for.'"
perceptions of victimhood - "...the therapeutic culture within which we live encourages finger-pointing for one's problems while minimizing personal responsibility." (p.137)
"with it [victimhood] comes the impossibility to sense the giftedness of life" (p.138)
a history of suffering - "witnessing how others deal with suffering in their lives may have the unintended effect of increasing ones own gratitude for life." (p.139)
the business of life - gratitude requires taking time out to reflect on one's blessings. as daily life is increasingly frantic, frazzled, and fragmented, gratitude can be crowded out." (p.139)
ingratitude quote from shakespeare...."i hate ingratitude more in man than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness, or any other taint of vice whose strong corruption inhabits our frail blood"
ingratitude quote from kant..."ingratitude is the essence of vileness"