Gratitude, Diversity, and Wellbeing

GRATITUDEsquirrel-610864_1280Gratitude may be the most important emotion. So argues a recent article in the Guardian by David Shariatmadari.

Unlike other emotions, “gratitude is always about your connection to the outside world.” Psychiatrists have shown that gratitude “boosts our wellbeing, and even our health.” Cicero called gratitude “not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Gratitude inspires people to help each other; it helps hold society together.

So maybe the reverse of gratitude leads to poor health, and drives society apart? That would be something to combat, right?

So what’s the opposite of gratitude?

Entitlement.

And what is entitlement? One definition, a polite one, would be an expectation of privilege.

Recently, in a wonderful segment on the Stephen Colbert show, Colbert talked with DeRay McKesson of Black Lives Matter. Colbert noted that he might be the whitest person — and thus the “most privileged” person — that McKesson had ever met. He asked McKesson what he could do about his privilege. McKesson said that simply acknowledging privilege is a start, a “baby step.”

Acknowledging it: Gratitude.

But how can we be grateful for what we have, if we simply expect to have it and don’t acknowledge that other people don’t or can’t? How can we make that first baby step?

By learning about other people. By putting ourselves in other people’s shoes.

In one of the studies referenced in the Guardian piece, psychiatrists located the part of the brain responsible for gratitude. They found it by having subjects read first-person accounts of Jews getting help from strangers while they tried to escape the Holocaust.

They found gratitude by having people imagine themselves as someone different, in a different time.

They found gratitude by doing diversity reading.

Diversity can help us be more grateful, healthier, more cohesive.

Thank you, Diversity.

(by Alan Bradshaw, BGB)

Share and connect — building a bliss community.

What books have helped you imagine being in someone else’s shoes? What has helped you feel gratitude?

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