Increasing Your GratitudeNov 23, 2023
While there are never feelings that you should or should not feel, there might be feelings that you WANT to feel more of—and maybe gratitude is one of those for you.
Not only can gratitude be one of the most enjoyable emotions to feel in and of itself, it can also be used to soften and ameliorate painful emotions like stress and grief.
Today on the podcast, I’m sharing a small but powerful tool that you can use to immediately increase the amount of gratitude you feel in any situation. Instead of forcing yourself or shaming yourself to “just be grateful,” this shift in perspective will help you think about gratitude in a way you never have before and make it easier to feel.
On this Thanksgiving weekend, I hope this episode will give you a tool to increase your gratitude that you can use any time you want to feel more of it.
- Why gratitude and shame sometimes get served together
- The 1 surprising thing that always gets in the way of our gratitude
- How to feel more gratitude for ANYTHING in your life
- Why our brains aren't programmed naturally for gratitude and how to change that
Welcome to the 100% Awesome Podcast with April Price. You might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thoughts you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome.
Hello podcast universe! Welcome to episode 238 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price and I want to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is by far, by far my favorite holiday. It always has been, and I think I say this every year that I get on here. But I'm always so glad that when I started this podcast, I published my first episode on a Thursday, ensuring that I would always end up with a Thanksgiving episode and didn't even plan that out.
But it just is like a little gift that happens every single year. I didn't know I was giving it to myself when I created the podcast, but I really, really love it because it's like a built in moment for me, a moment of reflection and gratitude and just like a pause to, like, stop and consider all that I'm grateful for, especially in regards to this podcast, since I'm talking to you and it's just a chance to remember the wonder of the life that I have, the amazingness of the world that we live in, and of the opportunities that I have because I live on the earth at this time, and because of the gifts and mercies of God, and because of the brilliance of all the other humans who've come before me. And like somehow I live at a time where the words spoken in the dark and this like little closet in my girl's room, in my house in Arizona is somehow like in your ears. And that is such a remarkable thing for me. I love having a moment to remember it among all my other blessings in among all the other things that I am grateful for. And I also just want you to know how grateful I am for each of you, for your trust, for your loyalty, for your generosity, just for being here.
Like, really, when it comes down to it all, we really have to give each other as time, right? All we really have is our attention. That is the real currency of our lives. And I am so grateful that you give me some of yours every single week. That is so humbling, and I hope that somehow I have been able to give you something in return. I just want to say thank you to all of you for being out there. And today I just have a small little concept thought that I want to share with you. I know that many of you are putting in the turkeys and the pies in the oven, and hopefully you've got a puzzle going and a card game to play, but really quick.
I just wanted to give you one small perspective shift on gratitude that I hope you will remember, and that will help you feel more gratitude today, this weekend, and really like whenever you want to in your life. You know, last week when I was talking to my brother on the podcast, you know, he said that he uses gratitude to get out of a negative headspace. And I particularly loved when he said that, like, for him, that's the emotion that has the least amount of friction and resistance to be able to get into when he's in a negative place.
And I think that's really powerful for all of us, like sometimes it's not really easy to get to like joy or ecstasy, but when we're in pain or when things are hard or when they are difficult, but sometimes there's just a lot less resistance when it comes to being grateful. But at the same time, like, unfortunately, what can happen to us is that our brain often uses the amount of gratitude we feel or the amount we don't feel against us, right? Too many times, I think, when we are considering the feeling of gratitude and talking about the feeling of gratitude and thinking like, hey, yeah, I want more of that feeling in my life.
Our brain serves that desire for gratitude up with a big dose of shame on the side, right? It's like like shame is the side dish that comes with gratitude, right? We're like in this negative space. And we remember, oh, yeah, gratitude is a way out of this negative space. But before we know it, we're like beating ourselves up and disgusted with ourselves that we're not more grateful. And all we can see is the negative. And we're just like, we're just not grateful enough. Right? And we tell ourselves that we're selfish or bratty or spoiled and that we're just a big complainer, right? And that, like, there's so much good in our lives and we don't really even have a right or a good reason to feel bad because we have so much and we've been given so much and that really, we don't even deserve it anyway.
And here we are, just being bad people, not even appreciating it and not having gratitude, right? So, instead of getting out of that negative space and feeling a little bit better now, we actually feel a little worse, right? Because now we have maybe we're in that negative mindset, and now we have this deep layer of shame that we've like covered over the top of it, right? Like, can you relate to that or is it like, is this just me? I like I remember last week I was having like a really hard day. Even remember. Like on the way to the gym that morning, I was like driving down the road and my brain brought up like a speaking assignment that I had in the summer, like really early and on in June.
And it started like just reminding me what a bad job I did and how I had felt and how I'm just like, not a good person and bad at everything. And like, my brain's just like bringing this up out of nowhere. Like, hey, remember when you were an idiot? Like, right. And and I was like, I remember just like saying out loud, like, really brain really like, this is what we're going to do today. Like, you're just going to reach through the archives and find something to feel bad about. Like I'm barely conscious. The day is like ten minutes old and we're just going to go straight to shame for something that like may or may not have happened or may or may not have done well on.
Like who even knows, right? Like five months ago. And anyway, like, like that was the start of that day and it just felt like I was in a battle the whole day against my brain, right? And I was just like in this, like negative space and like when I'm in that negative space, like, I'm not at my best either. I'm not like, behaving in the, in the, like, most loving, kind version of myself. And anyway, like it was this like not a good day, right? The very next morning, after I had that bad day, I woke up with this, like really bad muscle spasm in my neck. And my brain was like, see see you're just so ungrateful. You wake up almost every day and your neck is not in pain and you don't even notice it. All you do is you have a bad day and you find the negative and like, you act terrible, right? It's like yesterday. Like you made a mountain out of a molehill and your neck was working perfectly fine, and you're just not grateful for your life. You don't see the miracle of your life, and you're just negative all the time. And you know, you just want to be miserable, and your life would just not be so hard if you were just a better person if you're just grateful, right?
It's like my brain that created all that negativity the day before is then shaming me for not being grateful, right? Like, I just want you to see the irony of that, right? Like my brain was telling me that feeling bad was bad yesterday and it was wrong. And if I could choose the better emotion of gratitude, then I would be a better person and my life would be better. Right? And so, first and foremost, I want to point out to you like, never use the feeling of gratitude to make yourself wrong. Like the feeling of gratitude is a gift to you. It feels so good and most of us use it against ourselves, right? I want you to remember that there are no feelings that you should feel. There are no feelings that you shouldn't feel. There isn't a hierarchy of, like, really noble feelings and then like inferior feelings, right? There is no feeling morality, meaning the feelings aren't better or worse and you aren't are better or worse person for feeling them.
You're not a better person if you feel grateful. Grateful is just an emotion, and emotions can't make you better or worse, right? Emotions don't increase or decrease anybody's value. They are just sensations in our bodies. And these sensations then color our experiences. But the minute that you make certain feelings better or worse and then by default, like yourself, better or worse for having them, then shame is just like running the whole show, okay? And that will only ever make it harder to be grateful.
Okay, so stop judging yourself for not being grateful. It really is just a location on the emotional spectrum. Whatever feeling we're feeling in any moment, it is a location on an emotional spectrum, not a reflection of whether or not you are a good person, right? And whether or not you are living your life right. I want you to think about like your emotions, like destinations at an airport, right? Like you can board any plane. There are people that are going to Tulsa and people that are going to Madrid, and they aren't better or worse than each other.
They are just places that you can visit. And when we tell ourselves that, like, okay, since Paris is available, I should always be flying to Paris. It's just not true. Okay? Like we want to visit all the places and your emotions are just stops on the emotional experience map, and you're allowed to visit anywhere, and you're not going to be a better person. Depending on the cities that you go to visit, the emotional locations that you go to visit. And if I can just add, like the fastest way to get somewhere else is to stop being mad at yourself for where you are.
Okay. All right. That said, like putting all the like morality about gratitude aside, I know a lot of you actually want to go visit gratitude. You're like, I actually want to visit that location more often in my life. So now what? Right. Like gratitude is a great place to visit. It has a great vibe, has good food, has fun experiences, like it's a fun trip. And so, I want to give you one little tool today that will allow you to visit gratitude.
Take a trip to gratitude, if you will, a little more often. And that tool is to examine the relationship you have between expectations and appreciation in your life. So, I just want to tell you a really quick story. I live in Phoenix, Arizona where it is hot a lot of the year, super hot in the summer and the cool down into fall. The cool down into like the really nice months in winter is very, very slow. Like it is so subtle and it is so slow.
Okay, so somewhere last month in the middle of October, I was going to the gym. It was early in the morning, it was dark, and when I got out of the car I was like, what is that right? There was like the teeniest, tiniest like so subtle. But I could feel it, this tiny coolness in the air. And I was like, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, it's coming, right? Like I was so excited. This little tiny shift, I could feel the coolness. I could feel the change coming. And even though it was tiny, it was so minuscule. Like if you were not in Arizona, you probably wouldn't have even noticed it. But I did right and I was so happy. I was so happy for days I went home, I was just like, I took Auggie for a walk. I'm like, Auggie, it's coming. And I was smiling. For days, my friends and I were texting back and forth and gushing about the weather and, like, meeting for walks. We're like, you know, sending texts and like, I sprayed off all the patio furniture and I put out the candles and I was just like, oh my gosh, it's coming, right? And I was so happy and so delighted and so appreciative, so grateful for that teeniest, tiniest change.
Okay. So that was like over a month ago. And so for sure now more than 30 days may be closer to 45. It is so much cooler now, so much cooler now. Right? This week I was going to the gym and I thought, oh my gosh, I guess I need to start bringing a jacket. Like in the morning when it's dark, it's a little bit chilly and it is like significantly cooler than it was a month ago. But my appreciation has not gotten bigger. It has not increased at all. In fact, I would say that is significantly decreased. I am not sending text to my friends with exclamation points and heart emojis. Right? It is not the only thing that I can talk about, right? In fact, if anything, I'm actually even a little impatient about it. And I'm actually like a little jealous of the people that have fires in their fireplaces and their, like, putting on their sweaters. Right? And we're still we still got the air conditioning on, right. And what I want you to notice from this story is that my appreciation, my gratitude for the change, has disappeared.
As my expectations have increased as my expectations went up. Oh, it's changing, it's coming. The coolness is coming, my expectations went up and my appreciation every day has decreased. Right? That first day when I noticed the dip in the temperature and it was like so minimal to be sure I wasn't expecting it, I had no expectation that that it was ever going to be cool again. Right, and so when I when I felt at all, I was just this surge of appreciation came through me. Things are changing. It's not going to be hot forever. I was so grateful. But after that first dip, another week, another week went by. Another week went by. Like that dip was no longer unexpected. It became an expectation. And that's when my appreciation started to disappear. And I find this so fascinating. Right. And I think it applies to all the areas of our life. Like think about your marriage, for example.
Like at one point they your spouse was a wonder. And then we just started expecting all kinds of things. We started expecting our spouse to do certain things and show up in a certain way. And then we naturally have less appreciation when they do that. Like, if I expect David to take the trash cans out to the street on Tuesday night. Like when that becomes an expectation. I never say thank you, right? In fact, the only time I ever mention it is when he doesn't take the trash cans out.
And then I'm like, peeved about it, right? Like there's no appreciation there at all because it has become an expectation. Like when I expect him to bring a paycheck home every two weeks. I don't really appreciate it. I don't really even notice it. I don't say thank you. Right. Because my brain has told me this is not extraordinary. This is expected. And then it's really easy for me to lose the wonder and the appreciation and the gratitude for the fact that he creates money for our family and does it without thought, without question, without expecting any appreciation from any of us right now.
This doesn't make us bad people. This is just what happens because our brains normalize the things that happen all the time. Our brains learn to predict, oh, there's just always a paycheck. Oh, the sun always comes up. Oh, the trash cans. Go on. It just learns to predict that that's what is going to happen. And then it stops noticing it. Just like the temperature, right? Once it dropped, my brain normalized cool weather, it normalized that it was going to be cooler, and so it no longer needed to create a big deal about it, and no longer needed to create the emotion of appreciation, gratitude about something that was like, of course, going to happen.
All right. So, this is a really natural thing that happens in our brain. This is one of the ways your brain conserves energy. It makes the special, the extraordinary, the wondrous. It turns those into expectations so that we stop noticing it so that we stop spending the energy taking note of it, and so that it can, like focus on the dangers, focus on what's gone wrong in your life. Like our brains cannot take everything in. There is too much to notice. There's too much to see and smell and taste and hear.
Like all the time. We're getting so much input and your brain has to filter it out. And so it just filters out everything that's expected. It normalizes the things that we see in experience all the time, including the wonders of our life. The people in our lives. The sun that comes up every day. The breath in our lungs. The world that we live in. None of it is guaranteed to any of us. But it is expected by our brains.
Like even expecting my husband to be alive and breathing and snoring next to me, right? Like, I just think it's good to notice. Like, I just expect him to always be there. I expect him to always be breathing next to me. My brain just expects that that is what will always happen. And then I'm not able to appreciate what a gift every day with him is. Notice that if I had no expectation that any of it should be there, how much I would appreciate it.
So again, this is not to make you wrong, for not noticing it is to give you a tool as to give you a way into gratitude and appreciation. That tool is to step back for a moment from your brain's expectation to question those expectations. And when we're not in gratitude, we can just notice it's not because I'm spoiled or bratty or selfish or bad person. It's because my brain started making the extraordinary ordinary, started taking it for granted.
It started expecting it. My brain has just created some expectations. That's what brains are supposed to do. But our job now, if we want to feel more gratitude, if we want to, you know, visit the location of gratitude, it's to be aware that our expectations are the thing keeping us from that destination, and be willing to give them up, to suspend them, even momentarily, and appreciate the here and now. And like if I can just insert one other point here, this is why we don't have a lot of appreciation and gratitude for ourselves.
Because we have such high expectations. All we do is expect things of ourselves. You know, expect more performance, expect better behavior, expect ourselves to be good and not make mistakes and have endless energy and endless capacity. You know, and like our expectations of ourselves, the higher those go up, the less appreciation I have for any of the things that I do in my life. If you want to develop more appreciation, even just for yourself, you have to recognize, like it's my expectations here of myself that are getting in the way. I can't have wonder. I can't have appreciation if I also have expectation. They cannot exist simultaneously. There's no appreciation. There's no wonder there's no or if it's expected to be there. If you remove your expectations, you will find your gratitude.
So today, as you celebrate Thanksgiving with your family as we go into this holiday season, notice how if you didn't expect any of it, if you didn't expect your family to be there, if you didn't have the expectation that they should be alive and sitting around your table, if you didn't have the expectations that you should get this time and this day and this holiday and this moment with them, if none of it was expected. Notice how much wonder and appreciation you could have for all of it.
There is so much to appreciate right now. Right here in this moment. And the only thing that's clouding that is my brain's belief that this is not extraordinary, that it just supposed to be there, that it's just expected. That is what I have for you, my friends. Happy Thanksgiving! Don't expect any of it so that you can revel in the wonder and the appreciation of your life. There is so much to appreciate. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome. I love you for listening and I'll see you next week.
Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. If you're serious about changing your life, you first have to change your mind. And the best way to do that is through coaching. I work with my clients one on one to help them change their thoughts and their feelings about themselves, their lives, and their challenges so that they can live a life they love. If you'd like to work with me one on one, you can learn more and schedule a free call to try coaching for yourself at Aprilpricecoaching.com
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