Why Being Grateful Is NOT Enough

Jordan Brown

If you have even the smallest interest in mental health, you'll eventually come across a common piece of mental health advice.

The mental health advice is this: that you need to be grateful if you want to stop negative thoughts and feelings.

It's not necessarily bad advice.

It's just not enough.

You have to add something else to it.

Being Grateful - Stale Mental Health Advice

Gratitude is being thankful for what you have.

It's considering how fortunate you are.

Being grateful normally works because it snaps you out of doom-and-gloom thinking by focusing you on your present good fortune.

But it's simply not enough in most cases.

You can be grateful at a stop light instead of worrying about your life. And then be unhappy five minutes later.
You can be grateful for your family or friends. And still feel depressed.

Gratitude is a mindset shift, but it doesn't last long if you don't couple it with something equally important.

Why Being Grateful is Not Enough

The missing ingredient is action.

Action is the antidote that you're lacking.

When I'm stuck in a rut and I want to feel better, I do consider what I'm grateful for. But the next step is to not stop there--but to take action. To be more specific, I take action related to the feeling of gratitude I just had.

I'm grateful for my wife? Then I should text her that. I'm grateful for my health? Then, I should take advantage of my ability to move around and do 15 push-ups.

Putting your gratitude into action is gratitude embodied. It's a deeper, richer response to your position in life.

When you have words floating around in your head about the good things you have in life, they shouldn't just stay in your head. Thoughts are the start of something better. Big accomplishments always start with a decision, but they move forward--and eventually end--with consistent action that backs up those thoughts.

What Will You Do With Your Gratitude?

You know how to be grateful.  You do.

If you really thought about it for a minute, you could come up with five things in your life that indicate how fortunate you are. You're reading this email, which means you're benefiting from technology and the time to read these words. Those are two pieces of gratitude right there.

But there is always something more you can do. So take the next step. Embrace your gratitude. And then transform it into something else.

What will you do with your gratitude?

Will you let it linger and fall to the earth like a misshapen thought?

Or will you grab hold of it and transform it into something much more profound?