Why “Have an Attitude of Gratitude” is Terrible Advice

These days, it seems like mantras and catchphrases are popping up all over the place. Coffee cups, chocolate wrappers, and sweatshirts all have something to say. And I’m loving it! Words are a powerful way to remind us to live our life with intention. However, every now and then, I encounter a phrase that I can’t fully get behind.


Lately, it’s the phrase, “Have an attitude of gratitude.” Nope, not having it. Not one bit. In today’s video, I’m sharing why this phrase is pretty useless advice and what you can do instead!



I’m a firm believer in the concept, “Practice how you want to feel.” So many people are focused on feeling better, but they forget they have to do better. Focusing on the feeling, instead of the action, sets up an unrealistic expectation. This is particularly true with gratitude.


As humans, our brains our wired to focus on the negative. It’s an old defense mechanism from back in the day. It was helpful then, but in current times, this pattern of focusing on the negative gets us in all sorts of trouble. Nevertheless, our brains persist.


When we expect ourselves to have an attitude of gratitude, we’re asking our brain to recognize the good, naturally and without effort. And well, that’s just not how we’re wired. If we want to be more grateful, we have to practice seeing the good. We have to name what’s going well. We have to intentionally look for the positive, even when there are a million things to grumble about.



In the video above, I share my own story of practicing gratitude from a recent staycation. And while my relaying of the story is slightly humorous in the video, make no mistake. Practicing gratitude in those cold and freezing moments took work. There wasn’t a spontaneous “attitude of gratitude.” It was effortful.


The good news is that with practice, it does get easier to practice gratitude. You can retrain your brain to see the good easier.


Trying to have an attitude of gratitude isn’t enough. It’s too passive. Commit to practicing gratitude. On a daily basis, name the things you appreciate, no matter how hard you have to search.


Want to start a daily gratitude practice? Click here for super easy instructions on how to get started.

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