Can Gratitude Be a Bad Thing? Yes!
You have to be a little nuts to intentionally choose ingratitude. But bad gratitude is a reality.
Let’s begin with good gratitude.
“Ingratitude is always a kind of weakness. I have never known men of ability to be ungrateful.” Goethe
Gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. Robert A. Emmons
Gratitude lowers the desire for revenge and holding grudges by enhancing empathy and lowering aggression. Nathan DeWall
Gratitude indirectly buffers suicide. Science Direct
Gratitude contributes to positive relationships. Wood, Joseph, et al. Expressing gratitude helps you connect
- Entitlement. “What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” Brene’ Brown
Gratitude enables the genius of and:
- Pursue excellence and celebrate progress.
- Notice strengths and address deficiencies.
- Embrace happiness and reject complacency.
- Feel powerful and allow for the contribution of others.
- Practice autonomy and inter-dependence.
Arrogance transforms good to bad.
Gratitude that springs from superiority is bad gratitude.
Bad gratitude springs from negative comparison.
Examples of bad gratitude:
- I’m thankful I’m not a screw up like she is.
- I’m thankful I’m more talented than the people on my team.
- I’m thankful I’ve already learned the lessons he needs to learn.
Arrogant gratitude justifies itself by comparing itself with less talented or successful people.
Arrogant gratitude vindicates itself by raising standards for others and lowering standards for itself.
Curing bad gratitude:
#1. Compare yourself to your future best self, not the weaknesses, faults, or slow progress of others.
How far do YOU have to go? Not, how superior you are to others.
#2. Acknowledge that many advantages are matters of good fortune. You were born in a prosperous country, for example.
#3. Realize the faults you see in others are often reflections of your own. Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
How might leaders solve the challenge of bad gratitude?
Dan I find gratitude to have its greatest effect on the receiver when I state in tangible terms how the actions of that person helped me, the organization, or other people. That way they know that it is real and not meant to be manipulative in any way.
Thanks for your insight Jody. We prefer specific to general. A general thanks is nice. A specific thanks sticks with us. 🙂 Great insight.
I am grateful for Dan Rockwell and his daily blog that make me think!
Good gratitude is focused on the opportunity or what someone else has said, done, or will do.
Bad gratitude is based on feeling superior to someone else.
Thanks Paul. I appreciate your kind word. I find the idea that we might focus our gratitude on an opportunity to be liberating. 🙂
#1. Compare yourself to your future best self, not the weaknesses, faults, or slow progress of others. Boy that one stands out, why burden oneself with the weaknesses, faults and slow progress of others, that just holds one back from striving “to” success. Identify where you want to go, how you want to get there and move forward in that direction. Others will either join the train forward or be cast off.
Nicely said, Roger. I find that humility is one result of comparing myself with who I aspire to become – instead of others.
You got me thinking about how comparing ourselves with others is self-justifying AND it likely slows our progress. Best!
Recognize the bad others may endure to realize the good in your life! Being thankful for the stasis or starting point at which you begin is the first step in realizing most are better off than understood. Being gratuitous is a gift among a ‘continuous improvement’ mindset where nothing is good enough and the goal is always further beyond today.