Ingratitude and Three Root Causes
Why are some people naturally less thankful or appreciative than others? The answer lies in the root causes of ingratitude and how they can negatively impact a person’s ability to look for and celebrate the good things in life. Read on to explore three root causes of ingratitude and the negative impact they can have on one’s attitude and overall happiness.
We’ve all heard the warning against looking a gift-horse in the mouth or biting the hand that feeds you. Likewise, we’ve all been challenged to count our blessings and look for the silver lining. For some of us, this is hard to do because our inability to be mindful of any kindness received is plagued by what I call the Three E’s – Envy, Entitlement, and Expectation. These are three root causes of ingratitude.
1. Envy. People who suffer from envy walk through life painfully obsessed by the advantages enjoyed by others. Their strong desire to experience the same advantages causes significant resentments, which often lead to anger and unhappiness. You’ve heard of the green-eyed monster; jealousy can impede contentment and satisfaction in all areas of our lives. In comparing what we don’t have to what others do, we reduce our ability to appreciate the blessings in our own lives.
2. Entitlement. People who unfoundedly believe they deserve certain priveleges, benefits, or advantages tend to experience life through a series of demands, and struggle to balance taking from others with giving. They value relationships based on what others can give them and are dissatisfied when they don’t get what they feel they deserve. Examples of this include teen-agers demanding to be compensated or rewarded for tasks they should be doing as a matter of course; college students who feel they deserve an “A” because they are paying for their education but haven’t worked for their grade; and situational victims who use their misfortune as justification for why they should receive additional benefits or favor. Entitlement often leads to disappointment and disatisfaction.
3. Expectation. Some expectation is normal. For example, my boss can expect me to show up to work each day, and I can expect a paycheck every two weeks in return; if I don’t show up, I can expect I won’t get paid. Unfortunately, ingratitude is the result of unreasonable or inappropriate expectations, like expecting others to read my mind; expecting others to drop everything to accommodate my needs before their’s; and expecting others to give, give, give when I offer nothing in return. When expectations like these go unmet, resentment and anger surface and interfere with our ability to celebrate and not take for granted the good things in life.
Envy, entitlement, and expectation are dangerous attitudes and usually lead to unhealthy levels of anger, resentment, disappointment, unhappinness, and depression. Emotions like these make it extremely difficult to cope when things don’t go our way, and cause us to behave innefectively when navigating change, overcoming setbacks, or meeting the needs of others.
The good news is that these three root causes of ingratitude can be conquered. With an intentional daily effort to look for and celebrate the silver lining in all situations, ingratitude can be replaced by thankfulness and a spirit of genuine appreciation for all life has to offer.