Another Perspective on Gratitude

In previous posts, I have tried to express my gratitude for many people and experiences in my life.[1]

Arthur C. Brooks
Arthur C. Brooks

Now Arthur C. Brooks [2] has offered another useful perspective on this important virtue in his essay, Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier, N.Y. Times (Nov. 22, 2015).

He has concluded, “Building the best life does not require fealty to feelings in the name of authenticity, but rather rebelling against negative impulses and acting right even when we don’t feel like it. In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful.” In short, “we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness.”

To that end, Brooks offers these “concrete strategies:”

  • “First, start with ‘interior gratitude,’ the practice of giving thanks privately.”
  • Second “move to ‘exterior gratitude,’ which focuses on public expression. The psychologist Martin Seligman, . . . recommends that . . . [we should] systematically express gratitude in letters to loved ones and colleagues. A disciplined way to put this into practice is to make it as routine as morning coffee. Write two short emails each morning to friends, family or colleagues, thanking them for what they do.”
  • Third, “be grateful for useless things. . . . the little, insignificant trifles. . . . the small, useless things you experience — the smell of fall in the air, the fragment of a song that reminds you of when you were a kid. Give thanks.”

Brooks concludes by saying that he is “taking my own advice and updating my gratitude list. It includes my family, faith, friends and work. But also the dappled complexion of my bread-packed bird. And it includes you, for reading this column.”

Thank you, Arthur Brooks, for offering your perspective on gratitude.

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[1] Gratitude I (March 15, 2012); Gratitude II (April 11, 2012); Gratitude III (April 13, 2012); Gratitude Revisited (June 13, 2015).

[2] Brooks is the President and the Beth and Ravenel Curry Scholar in Free Enterprise at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government at Syracuse University, where he taught economics and social entrepreneurship. He is the author of 11 books and hundreds of articles on topics including the role of government, fairness, economic opportunity, happiness, and the morality of free enterprise. He holds degrees from Thomas Edison State College, B.A. (Economics); Florida Atlantic University, M.A.; and Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School, Ph. D. (policy analysis).

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http://www.aei.org/scholar/arthur-c-brooks/

 

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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