Vetaal in the Workplace – The Pressures of gratitude

“Next week is Thanksgiving and we encourage all members of the team to participate in the gratitude circle” reads the email from the section head.

Srihari hates such mails. Now he will have to smile and thank a bunch of guys for their average output.

“Oh thanks for sharing the oxygen, you miserable waste of breathable air,” mutters Srihari as he shuts down that mail and moves on to the work for the day.

By evening he gets an attachment and there is also a contest on who thanks the maximum. The work floor is buzzing with thank you notes from everyone. People are smiling, passing around gratitude notes to just about everyone.

What disturbed Srihari was a note he got in gratitude from a person with whom he has regular arguments. His note read “ Thank you Srihari for making the workplace fun. I enjoy our debates.”

Not only did he not enjoy such arguments, it was in fact killing engagement, productivity and positivity in the team. Now he gets a phony thank you note because of the contest. Srihari quickly completes his work for the day and leaves the office.

Vetaal’s Riddle : What if you are not feeling grateful? How do we deal with the situation when the pressure of being positive turns us negative?

Possible Reasons…

If you force yourself to feel grateful, it can feel like an obligation, making it a problem that you are not feeling grateful. In a weird twist you may be feeling victimized by the social pressure to feel grateful when you really don’t. 

Srihari for some reason is not feeling grateful right now. He knows he is supposed to feel grateful but the feeling is just not being felt.

Reinstating the importance, affirmations, notes and contests don’t work for him. Feeling grateful is just about always positive. But when we are feeling down, the act of trying to feel grateful, or being told we “should” feel grateful, often has the opposite effect.

Gratitude is an emotional state of being therefore creating an awareness of your gratefulness is enough to be in a better emotional state.

The ‘problem’ happens when we push the ‘act’ grateful card. Trying to ‘do’ something may not change the sense of being.

We constantly live on a continuum between gratitude and boorishness. Somewhere in between is the feeling of obligation – something that we are supposed to do. That obligation point is the cat on the wall, it can turn you retentive like Srihari or maybe push you to really be grateful.

Some simple steps to use to practice gratefulness without making it an act –

1. Give yourself a break.

It is all right not to win the thank you contest. It is probably alright to be grumpy a little bit. After all grumpy is also an emotion and deserves its place in our heart.

2. Heap a bit of self love

Say thank you to your self. Practice a bit of self love. You have been tirelessly working and require some pat on your back.

3. Unwind

Take a break, play that song, dance or take a walk. Whatever works for you. Feel the grumpiness go away. Feel the positive energy come back to you.

4. Accept your state of being

If you are still feeling low, begin to accept the things you probably cannot change. Acceptance will help you to leap forward in feeling positive.

5. Skip gratitude completely, must be kind

Purposefully seeking to do simple acts of kindness, such as taking time to help an elderly neighbor, letting someone cut in front of you in traffic, or helping a co-worker who is behind on a project, lead to increased well-being because it literally feels good

So remember

It’s okay if you try to think of something to be grateful for but can’t.

It’s okay if you are grateful for some aspects of your life but not others.

It’s okay if you have everything in the world to be grateful for and still don’t feel happy.

It’s OK

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