Gratitude: True Simcha

By Sorah Kopelman

A friend of mine recently took a trip to India. She was fascinated by the country until she took a trip to New Delhi. In New Delhi, there were hundreds of people sleeping on the streets. The city was completely poverty stricken. Shaken, she arrived back home and immediately phoned me. Throughout the conversation, she repeatedly told me how grateful she is to have a house to sleep in and cannot imagine ever complaining about anything again. After all, her life was "Utopia" compared to those living in New Delhi.

A few weeks later, my friend called me exasperated that her fridge and freezer just broke. "I know I should not complain. People in New Delhi don’t even have fridges and freezers," she exclaimed. With time, I heard less and less about India and more and more about different annoyances and inconveniences my friend was facing.

This is what we call desensitization or the "Taking for Granted Syndrome". We get used to our routines and habits. When we encounter something new like the first few days in a foreign country, the first few days in a new job, or a new piece of jewelry, the newness affects us powerfully. However, quite quickly our psychological mechanism desensitizes us and overshadows the newness with familiarity.

To say it simply, how often does it happen that you buy yourself a new pair of shoes? The first time you wear your new prizes, you are overwhelmed with feelings of confidence as you proudly parade down the street. This euphoric feeling may accompany you time 2,3 and maybe 4 when you step into your new shoes. By the time you have worn your shoes 8, 9, 10 times, they are nothing more than…SHOES! Your feelings of previous ecstasy has been reduced to nothing more than a regular, run of the mill, no special shoe day, feeling. Does this scenario sound familiar to any of you?

Familiarity, or rote, is the by product that overshadows anything new or exciting. As fast as the excitement made its hit, it can just as easily disappear into routine. How can we break this endless cycle which often leaves us feeling ungrateful and mediocre?

There is one answer, and that is Gratitude. Gratitude re-ignites the passion we once had within us by actively appreciating the newness we started off with. The expression of gratitude in particular, allows one to relive his or her appreciation for whatever is that made them excited and appreciative to start with. The way to counteract the "Taking for Granted Syndrome" is to express the positivity in our lives and repeatedly appreciate all that once excited us. To end off scientifically, numerous studies have proven that constant gratitude, both in thought and speech, enhances ones emotional and psychological happiness and general wellbeing.