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  Quotations - Gratitude  
[Quote No.42177] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"[People don't know the value of what they have until it is gone:] Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered.... Liberty is rendered even more precious by the recollection of servitude. [Don't wait till freedom is gone before you enjoy, value, support, protect and make the most of it!]" - Marcus Tullius Cicero

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[Quote No.42572] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Everything is relative in this world, where change alone endures. [Everything is better than some things and worse than others. Which you choose to compare your experiences and situation with determines whether you will be happy and grateful or sad and jealous.]" - Leon Trotsky

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[Quote No.42625] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"[With a grateful attitude all experiences have some good in them.] Visits always give pleasure - if not the arrival, then the departure." - Portuguese Proverb

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[Quote No.42634] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"How to [be happy ourselves and] raise happy kids:- Did you ever notice how so many children today seem unhappy? No matter how much they have, no matter how hard you try to give them more, they never seem content. They should be the happiest kids who ever lived. They have traveled to islands, gone jeeping through the deserts of Israel, swam with dolphins, but there is a sense of discontent. There are children who have iPhones, iPads, wiis, Gameboys, American girl dolls, and basements filled with toys. Summer time brings talk of sleep away camp, shopping with long lists in hand or planning trips to faraway places. Even with the difficult economic situation, the reality is that we would rather do without ourselves than have our children feel as if they are lacking. Last week a father called me. He said that each summer he rents a home for his family in beautiful surroundings. It is a neighborhood where some people buy lavish homes, others rent. Even though he has always enjoyed their summer place, his 13-year-old daughter made it clear that she was unhappy. At 2 a.m. she decided to have a meltdown. ‘I am ashamed of the house we stay in every summer,’ she cried. ‘All my friends have much better houses, why can’t we? If we take this same house as always I don’t want any of my friends coming over. Don’t even think about inviting them!’ She stomped to her room and slammed the door, leaving her father hurt and perplexed. ‘I try so hard,’ he said to me. ‘What is she thinking? Doesn’t she see how much I sweat to make a buck?’ How do we combat the unhappiness? Of course there are many reasons our children act miserably. You can say it is awful chutzpah, too much stuff, absence of parental involvement, or deficient discipline. Others will say there is not enough one on one time, children who do not feel really accepted, a lack of self-esteem or just plain arrogance. We mistakenly believe that the more we give, the happier they’ll be. Wrong! But at the root of the misery lies a basic glaring lack of gratitude. When children are not cognizant of their blessings [of how much worse things could be], they do not begin to recognize how much they have. They overlook the good, both the big and the small, and they grow more entitled with each day. We mistakenly believe that the more we give, the happier they will be. Wrong. Instead, it is the more they appreciate, the happier they will grow. I explained to this father that it is time he sat down with his daughter and introduce her to the concept of ‘Dayenu’. On Passover we recount all of God’s many kindnesses. After each kindness we pause and say: ‘Dayenu – it would have been enough for us!’ We are encouraged to recognize each gracious act of giving and realize that every deed deserves thoughtful appreciation. We don’t take anything for granted. We stop and contemplate the blessing of enough [and that how wonderful it is that things aren’t worse]. I received an incredibly long list that had been drawn up for this 13 year old. Here’s part of the list: --We have a beautiful home. --We rent a lovely summer house in a gorgeous neighborhood. --We have traveled to Israel. --We have traveled to Paris. --We have traveled to Italy. --We have gone skiing in Utah. --We eat in delicious restaurants. --We have gone to Miami every Chanukah vacation since you were a baby. --We have celebrated your bat mitzvah with an amazing party. --We have sent you to sleep away camp since fourth grade. --We have a loving family. --We have grandparents who cherish us. --We have good health. After each line, the father wrote Dayenu. And then he explained to this child who had been blessed with more than she had ever understood (and more than most could ever imagine) that it was time to appreciate the blessings of that which we have, instead of focusing on that which we think that we are missing in life. There is one more missing link here – the presence of parents who live with the motto of Dayenu in their own lives. When children hear their mother or father constantly commenting on other people’s homes, enviously recounting the way others vacation, or having conversations about the expensive clothing and furniture that their friends seem to have, we are implanting the ugly roots of [ingratitude, bitterness,] discontent and unhappiness in our children’s hearts. How can we teach the blessing of enough when are days are spent wanting more and more? Unfortunately, these parents spent many hours bickering. But it is not only financially that we come up short in our minds. Somehow, in every conflict, this husband and wife each felt unappreciated. Both expressed frustration that their spouse was not doing their share. If I am always concentrating on what my spouse does not do instead of recognizing the good that he does, I end up destroying any potential for joy that I may have. My life becomes filled with negatives and I grow bitter and unhappy. Let us take the lesson of Dayenu to heart. It is time for us all to contemplate the blessing of enough [and that how wonderful it is that things aren’t worse]." - Slovie Jungreis-Wolff
She is a freelance writer, and a relationships and parenting instructor. She is the daughter of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, founder of Hineni International. Slovie has taught Hineni Young Couples and Parenting classes for more than 15 years. Her book, 'Raising A Child With Soul', is published by St. Martin's Press. [http://www.aish.com/f/p/The_Blessing_of_Enough.html ]
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[Quote No.42735] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude...Ingratitude is surely the chief of the intellectual sins of man." - G. K. Chesterton
Author of the 'Father Brown' series of detective stories amongst many other literary works.
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[Quote No.42736] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Man has an almost infinite capacity for taking things [and people] for granted [and thereby missing out on the pleasure of being grateful that things aren't worse and of praising and thereby lifting the spirits of others]." - Aldous Huxley

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[Quote No.42738] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Take full account of the excellences which you do possess, and in gratitude, remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not." - Marcus Aurelius
Roman emperors
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[Quote No.42742] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement [and gratitude that it is not worse as it certainly could be]...get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

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[Quote No.42743] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures [and we are grateful]." - Thornton Wilder

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[Quote No.42746] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"To be grateful for all life's blessings...is the best condition for a happy life. A joke, a good meal, a fine spring day, a work of art, a human personality, a voice, a glance - but this is not all. For there is another kind of gratitude...the feeling that makes us thankful for suffering, for the hard and heavy things of life, for the deepening of our natures which perhaps only suffering can bring." - Thomas Mann
He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929. He was born in Germany, but emigrated to the United States in 1938, becoming an American citizen in 1944. While serving as a lecturer at Princeton University (1938-40), he took one-hour walks through the campus almost every day, sometimes accompanied by his old friend, the physicist, Albert Einstein.
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[Quote No.42747] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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[Quote No.42748] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it." - Fyodor Dostoevsky

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[Quote No.42750] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what [bad things] I have not received." - Storm Jameson

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[Quote No.42751] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"One single grateful thought raised to heaven is the most perfect prayer." - G. E. Lessing

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[Quote No.42752] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"We take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." - Cynthia Ozick

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[Quote No.42753] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it!" - William Arthur Ward

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[Quote No.42843] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Remorse [regret, etc] sleeps during a prosperous period but wakes up in adversity [when we compare what we think would have happened with what has happened and believe it would have been better. While this may help us learn how to approach the future, especially similar situations, better, after we have learned what we can and how to beneficially implement it, thereby continuing our evolution towards our best selves, the next challenge is to put the mistake or failure behind us, as beyond change and something that was a part of creating who we are now and the better self we hope to be in the future, and find a way through to happiness. One way is to be grateful that the past was not worse and that now it has helped us with greater personal understanding and growth as well as deeper compassion for others, particularly in similar situations.]" - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
(1712 – 1778), Franco-Swiss philosopher of the Enlightenment whose political ideas influenced the French Revolution, the development of socialist theory, and the growth of nationalism. As quoted in his book, ‘Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’ (1770, published 1782).
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[Quote No.43168] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Be Humble, Be Happy: - A person who is sincerely humble will be constantly happy. A humble person realizes that nothing is owed him, and therefore feels [if not completely] satisfied with what he has [he is grateful that it is not worse, as it of course always could be. Therefore]... He constantly has peace of mind and always feels the joy of life [as he continues to strive to meet his needs, wants and dreams and to be his best self]." - Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Quote from his book, 'Gateway to Happiness', p.37.
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[Quote No.43206] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not [at that time], but rejoices [and is grateful] for those which he has [as he strives towards his hopes and dreams]." - Epictetus
(55 - 135), Greek Philosopher.
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[Quote No.43292] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Nothing more detestable [misguided, pityful and unhappy] does the earth produce than an ungrateful man [woman or child: unaware of how lucky they are that things are not worse; because the wise and happy KNOW, they could ALWAYS be WORSE and are therefore always relieved and grateful for their past, present and future]." - Decimus Magnus Ausonius
(circa 310 – circa 394), Latin poet and teacher of rhetoric at Burdigala (Bordeaux, France). For a time he was tutor to the future emperor Gratian, who afterwards bestowed the Consulship on him.
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[Quote No.43311] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"[Be grateful for your difficulties and challenges, for they hold blessings. In fact...] Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health [personal growth, individuation and self-actualisation]." - Carl Jung
(1875 – 1961), Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology. Jung proposed and developed the concepts of the extraverted and the introverted personality, archetypes, the collective unconscious, the complex and synchronicity. His work has been influential in psychiatry, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and in the study of religion, literature, and related fields. Jung is one of the best known contemporary contributors to dream analysis and symbolization. He also developed the concept of 'individuation', which is the central concept of analytical psychology. Jung considered individuation, the psychological process of integrating and balancing the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious while still maintaining their relative autonomy, to be the central process of human development.
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[Quote No.43318] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"What makes us discontented with our condition is the absurdly exaggerated idea we have of the happiness of others. [The mind and our emotions seem to be set up to compare in our imaginations our situation with others. In this case we imagine their situation to be better than ours, so our mind and emotions strangely but seemingly naturally create a bitter feeling. Don't ask me why exactly although I suspect that there is some good evolutionary reason, related to herding around good things like food, etc or perhaps it is about motivating us to compete and promote the survival of the fittest. Now by the same token that that has some special evolutionary reason the reverse comparison, where our situation seems better than someone elses' or some other situation we ourselves could be in, seems to have the opposite positive effect, creating a grateful rather than bitter feeling. So in order to feel happy we either need to think like the above quote says that we are exaggerating their happiness so their situation is not better than ours so we aren't bitter, or we need to simply realise and focus our imagination on the fact that our situation could be much worse, so we are relieved it is not worse, and it is better than that, so we naturally feel grateful and happy!]" - French Proverb

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[Quote No.43414] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"You have to have a darkness...for the dawn to come. [You have to have experienced difficulties and challenges to fully appreciate and be grateful for success.]" - Harrison Ford

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[Quote No.43425] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Your [gratitude] attitude determines your [life] altitude." - Zig Ziglar

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[Quote No.43459] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow!!" - Friedrich Nietzsche
(1844 - 1900), philosopher.
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[Quote No.43506] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"[Nothing is ever all bad because even difficult times bring the blessings of personal growth in greater experience and wisdom, if we really search for them. So we can be grateful even for negative things...] The period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one's life." - Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama - the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists and the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
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[Quote No.43521] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves but in our ['negative, could-be-better ingratitude' or 'positive, could-be-worse gratitude'] attitude toward them. " - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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[Quote No.43527] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"An 'attitude of gratitude' may be a platitude, but it still remains one of the best ways to view one's life." - Dr. Mardy Grothe

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[Quote No.43589] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to [grow and] become successful. [For that reason it makes sense to be grateful for adversities that help you grow, even if it is only in understanding and compassion for other's suffering.]" - Zig Ziglar

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[Quote No.43636] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"We are injured and hurt emotionally, not so much by other people or what they say and don't say, but by our own attitude [of bitterness that they and we were not better, rather than gratitude that they and we were not worse] and our own response." - Dr Maxwell Maltz

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[Quote No.43651] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven [depending on whether they compare it to something better and so feel disappointed and bitter or they compare it to something worse and so feel relieved and grateful]." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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[Quote No.43689] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Whether a glass is half full or half empty depends on the attitude of the person looking at it [and what they are mentally comparing it to; something better and they'll be bitter; something worse and they'll be grateful]." - Unknown

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[Quote No.43771] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"The world is filled with limitless opportunities for pleasure and enjoyment. What destroys this potential is that we become used to what we already have and take things for granted. [We no longer see what we have as wonderful. Familiarity has brought contempt and discontent. To renew our vision of life we need to become imaginatively aware that everything could be worse and then we will again feel relief, gratitiude and happiness that it isn't!]" - Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

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[Quote No.43803] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"[Be grateful, even for 'bad' luck, because...] You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from." - Cormac McCarthy
The author of 'The Road'.
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[Quote No.43818] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." - Unknown

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[Quote No.43861] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"We are born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed [unless we learn how to be grateful that things are not worse]." - Thomas Fuller

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[Quote No.43940] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"[In every calamity there is something to be grateful for...] Since my house burned down, I now own a better view, Of the rising moon." - Mizuta Masahide
(1657-1723), poet and samurai
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[Quote No.43944] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what [bad things] I have not received. " - Storm Jameson

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[Quote No.43976] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Complaining is the result of focusing on the hole rather than the donut. The opposite of complaining is gratitude." - Sara Yoheved Rigler
[http://www.aish.com/sp/pg/The-Power-of-Gratitude.html ]
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[Quote No.43978] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"WHAT GRATITUDE CAN ACCOMPLISH: Professor Robert A. Emmons of the University of California in Davis performed psychological studies to investigate the effects of gratitude on the persons who practice it. (See his book, 'Thanks!') He found that the subjects who practiced gratitude by writing down five occurrences they were grateful for every week over a period of ten weeks were 25% happier than the control group. Critics of the study pointed out that the subjects were healthy college students. Could gratitude also improve the lives of people who had genuine reasons to complain? Professor Emmons conducted another study, recruiting as subjects adults who suffered from neuromuscular disorders that resulted in chronic pain and muscle atrophy. The 21-day experiment revealed that, compared to the control group, the subjects who practiced gratitude were more satisfied with their lives, were more optimistic, and slept better. An article in 'PN Magazine' recommends how to practice gratitude: 'Substitute grateful thoughts for ungrateful ones by identifying the good in your life — friends, transportation, family, e-mail — no matter how small. Keep in mind such simple conveniences as warm clothes, running water, indoor plumbing, and living in a free and compassionate country.' 'PN Magazine' stands for 'Paraplegia News.' Richard Holicky, the writer of this article touting gratitude, is himself a paraplegic – he suffered a spinal cord injury in 1989. Before his paralysis, he was a farmer, woodsman, and miner. Instead of complaining about the abilities and activities he lost, Mr. Holicky expresses gratitude for the blessings of running water and indoor plumbing. Complaining vs. gratitude... Which will you choose?" - Sara Yoheved Rigler
[http://www.aish.com/sp/pg/The-Power-of-Gratitude.html ]
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[Quote No.43983] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something. [If this is true, or if you are one of the people who believe this is true, then the one universal way to enjoy life is still the same, which is to learn to be grateful that it is not worse!!]" - William Goldman
The author of 'The Princess Bride'.
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[Quote No.44015] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"The person with a good heart [attitude of gratitude - happy and grateful that things are not worse] has a continual feast." - Bible
Proverbs 15:15
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[Quote No.44025] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"The habit of being happy [by gratefully realising that things could always be worse but aren't] enables one to be freed, or largely freed, from the dominance of outward conditions." - Robert Louis Stevenson

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[Quote No.44151] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it." - Charles Swindoll

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[Quote No.44154] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"The only difference between a Good Day And a Bad Day Is your ATTITUDE!" - Dennis Brown

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[Quote No.44327] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"The [Jewish sacred text the] Talmud states that all suffering [frustration, failure, etc] is purposeful. When we suffer, we should view it as a message to check our behavior for areas we can [learn more about and thereby] improve. Viewing suffering as meaningless increases one's pain. When you find meaning and purpose in suffering, it becomes much easier to bear [gratefully]. The more meaning you see, the lighter the burden [and the easier to be grateful for it]. The worst suffering is when one feels there is no purpose in it [for ourselves or others]." - Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Quote from his book, 'Gateway to Happiness', p.258.
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[Quote No.44450] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long [in disappointment and bitterness] at the closed door that we do not [expectantly look for and therefore] see [with pleasure and gratitude] the one which has been opened for us." - Helen Keller

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[Quote No.44542] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"[Be grateful for your difficulties:] Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict." - William Ellery Channing

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[Quote No.44606] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"When there is pain, the animal instinct is 'fight or flight' (i.e., to either strike back or run away) - reflect [so you can learn and grow] instead. When you can calm yourself down, thinking about the dilemma that is causing you pain will bring you to a higher level and enlighten you, leading to progress [and gratitude]." - Ray Dalio
(1949 - ), American businessman and founder of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates. Quote from his book, 'Principles'. [http://www.bwater.com/Uploads/FileManager/Principles/Bridgewater-Associates-Ray-Dalio-Principles.pdf ]
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[Quote No.44620] Need Area: Fun > Gratitude
"[As freedom has increased in certain societies, a number of people have found it to be the cause of problems, especially psychological and emotional problems [sometimes called 'existential angst'], for members of that society. While that might be true, a return to less individual freedom and choice is not the best answer, but rather a better understanding of and education in how to make the most of that freedom while renewing our focus on seeing the positive, is. The latter point is especially important. Rather than comparing our choices with what could be better and being bitter that they aren’t, we must reemphasize comparing our choices with what could be worse and being grateful that they aren’t. Here is the transcript of a TED speech by a psychology professor, who has studied this issue, about the difficulties that more choices bring. Please note how an attitude of gratitude rather than ingratitude is a better solution than reducing choice and restricting the inalienable human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness:] I'm going to talk to you about some stuff that's in this book of mine [‘The Paradox of Choice’, 2004] that I hope will resonate with other things you've already heard, and I'll try to make some connections myself, in case you miss them. I want to start with what I call the ‘official dogma.’ The official dogma of what? The official dogma of all western industrial societies. And the official dogma runs like this: if we are interested in maximizing the welfare of our citizens, the way to do that is to maximize individual freedom. The reason for this is both that freedom [individual empowerment] is in and of itself good, valuable, worthwhile, essential to being human. And because if people have freedom, then each of us can act on our own to do the things that will maximize our welfare, and no one has to decide on our behalf. The way to maximize freedom is to maximize choice. The more choice people have, the more freedom they have, and the more freedom they have, the more welfare [happiness] they have. . . We all know what's good about it, so I'm going to talk about what's bad about it [as I see it]. All of this choice has two effects, two negative effects on people. One effect, paradoxically, is that it produces paralysis, rather than liberation. With so many options to choose from, people [without a system to weigh and make choices easily] find it very difficult to choose at all. I'll give you one very dramatic example of this: a study that was done of investments in voluntary retirement plans. A colleague of mine got access to investment records from Vanguard, the gigantic mutual fund company of about a million employees and about 2,000 different workplaces. And what she found is that for every 10 mutual funds the employer offered, rate of participation went down two percent. You offer 50 funds -- 10 percent fewer employees participate than if you only offer five. Why? Because with 50 funds to choose from, it's so damn hard to decide which fund to choose that you'll just put it off until tomorrow. And then tomorrow, and then tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and of course tomorrow never comes. Understand that not only does this mean that people are going to have to eat dog food when they retire because they don't have enough money put away, it also means that making the decision is so hard that they pass up significant matching money from the employer. By not participating, they are passing up as much as 5,000 dollars a year from the employer, who would happily match their contribution. So paralysis is a consequence of having too many choices. . . You really want to get the decision right if it's for all eternity, right? You don't want to pick the wrong mutual fund, or even the wrong salad dressing. So that's one effect. The second effect is that even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from. And there are several reasons for this. One of them is that with a lot of different salad dressings to choose from, if you buy one, and it's not perfect - and, you know, what salad dressing is? - it's easy to imagine that you could have made a different choice that would have been better. And what happens is this imagined alternative induces you to regret the decision you made, and this regret subtracts from the satisfaction you get out of the decision you made, even if it was a good decision. The more options there are, the easier it is to regret anything at all that is disappointing about the option that you chose. Second, what economists call ‘opportunity costs.’ Dan Gilbert made a big point this morning of talking about how much the way in which we value things depends on what we compare them to [value them more if compare to something worse and value them less if compare them to something better]. Well, when there are lots of alternatives to consider, it is easy to imagine the attractive features of alternatives that you reject, that make you less satisfied with the alternative that you've chosen. Here's an example. For those of you who aren't New Yorkers, I apologize. But here's what you're supposed to be thinking. Here's this couple on the Hamptons. Very expensive real estate. Gorgeous beach. Beautiful day. They have it all to themselves. What could be better? ‘Well, damn it,’ this guy is thinking, ‘It's August. Everybody in my Manhattan neighborhood is away. I could be parking right in front of my building.’ And he spends two weeks nagged by the idea that he is missing the opportunity, day after day, to have a great parking space. Opportunity costs subtract from the satisfaction we get out of what we choose, even when what we choose is terrific. And the more options there are to consider, the more attractive features of these options are going to be reflected by us as opportunity costs. Here's another example. Now this cartoon makes a lot of points. It makes points about living in the moment as well, and probably about doing things slowly. But one point it makes is that whenever you're choosing one thing, you're choosing not to do other things. And those other things may have lots of attractive features, and it's going to make what you're doing less attractive. Third: escalation of expectations. This hit me when I went to replace my jeans. I wear jeans almost all the time. And there was a time when jeans came in one flavor, and you bought them, and they fit like crap, and they were incredibly uncomfortable, and if you wore them long enough and washed them enough times, they started to feel OK. So I went to replace my jeans after years and years of wearing these old ones, and I said, you know, ‘I want a pair of jeans. Here's my size.’ And the shopkeeper said,’ Do you want slim fit, easy fit, relaxed fit? You want button fly or zipper fly? You want stonewashed or acid-washed? Do you want them distressed? You want boot cut, you want tapered, blah blah blah ...’ On and on he went. My jaw dropped, and after I recovered, I said, ’I want the kind that used to be the only kind.’ He had no idea what that was, so I spent an hour trying on all these damn jeans, and I walked out of the store - truth! - with the best-fitting jeans I had ever had. I did better. All this choice made it possible for me to do better. But I felt worse. Why? I wrote a whole book to try to explain this to myself. The reason I felt worse is that, with all of these options available, my expectations about how good a pair of jeans should be went up. I had very low - I had no particular expectations when they only came in one flavor. When they came in 100 flavors, damn it, one of them should've been perfect. And what I got was good, but it wasn't perfect. And so I compared what I got to what I expected, and what I got was disappointing in comparison to what I expected. Adding options to people's lives can't help but increase the expectations people have about how good those options will be. And what that's going to produce is less satisfaction with results, even when they're good results [if they haven’t learnt to compare their lives with what is worse and therefore become grateful rather than with what is better and therefore become bitter.] The reason that everything was better back when everything was worse [in my opinion] is that when everything was worse, it was actually possible for people to have experiences that were a pleasant surprise [serendipity] . Nowadays, the world we live in - we affluent, industrialized citizens, with perfection the expectation - the best you can ever hope for is that stuff is as good as you expect it to be. You will never be pleasantly surprised because your expectations, my expectations, have gone through the roof. The secret to happiness - this is what you all came for - the secret to happiness is low expectations [in my opinion]. I want to say - just a little autobiographical moment - that I actually am married to a wife, and she's really quite wonderful. I couldn't have done better. I didn't settle. But settling isn't always such a bad thing. Finally, one consequence of buying a bad-fitting pair of jeans when there is only one kind to buy is that when you are dissatisfied, and you ask why, who's responsible, the answer is clear: the world is responsible. What could you do? When there are hundreds of different styles of jeans available, and you buy one that is disappointing, and you ask why, who's responsible? It is equally clear that the answer to the question is you. You could have done better. With a hundred different kinds of jeans on display, there is no excuse for failure. And so when people make decisions, and even though the results of the decisions are good, they feel disappointed about them; they blame themselves. Clinical depression has exploded in the industrial world in the last generation. I believe a significant - not the only, but a significant – contributor to this explosion of depression, and also suicide, is that people have experiences that are disappointing because their standards are so high [and what they compare their lives to is something that is better making them bitter rather than something that is worse making them grateful], and then when they have to explain these experiences to themselves, they think they're at fault. And so the net result is that we do better in general, objectively, and we feel worse. So let me remind you. This is the official dogma, the one that we all take to be true, and [in my opinion] it's all false. It is not true. There's no question that some choice is better than none, but it doesn't follow from that that more choice is better than some choice. There's some magical amount. I don't know what it is. I'm pretty confident that we have long since passed the point where options improve our welfare. [Other people see the issue not as one where we have too much choice with advertising continually showing us better things that others have that we don’t, and maybe we can’t ever have because we probably won’t ever be able to afford it, creating dissatisfaction, disappointment and depression, but rather as an issue of whether we are able to compare what we have with something worse and so feel grateful for our lives and possessions or whether we allow ourselves to succumb to advertising’s drive, its ‘ raison d'etre’ - reason for existence - to make us dissatisfied with our lot by only comparing what we have with something better and therefore feeling disappointed, bitter and motivated to do whatever we must to get the ‘next best thing’ in order to feel validated and happy.]" - Barry Schwartz
Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action in the psychology department at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where he has taught for thirty years. He is the author of several leading textbooks on the psychology of learning and memory, as well as a penetrating look at contemporary life, ‘The Battle for Human Nature: Science, Morality, and Modern Life.’ Dr. Schwartz is married and has two children. In his 2004 book ‘The Paradox of Choice’, Barry Schwartz tackles one of the great mysteries of modern life: Why is it that societies of great abundance — where individuals are offered more freedom and choice (personal, professional, material) than ever before — are now witnessing a near-epidemic of depression? Conventional wisdom tells us that greater choice is for the greater good, but Schwartz argues the opposite… It leads us to set unreasonably high expectations, question our choices before we even make them and blame our failures entirely on ourselves. [http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html ]
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