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The Biggest Block to Happiness & Gratitude

The Biggest Block to Happiness & Gratitude

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the one thing that blocks and kills gratitude and destroys the Holidays and our life, and how to overcome it.

First a quick update:

“Strategies to prevent violence in the workplace”
Jason Rodriguez walked into his former office building and shot dead one person. But he did it two years after he was fired. Is this just an isolated case or could there be more similar events on the way? Are there identifiable elements in the workplace culture that foster a toxic climate? And what can people in the Human Resources department do if an employee appears to be a potential concern? Read the transcript of the interview I gave last week to Russ Morley on 850 WFTL radio.

Now, let’s talk about the obstacle that stands in our way of expressing gratitude.

As we approach the Holiday season, gratitude is usually the intended focus, particularly on Thanksgiving, Christmas and other religious Holidays – expressing thanks for what we have – family, loved ones, health, job, house, food, etc.

Expressing love in the form of gratitude to the people closest to us is the hardest challenge that most of us face around this time of the year.


One thing stands in the way.


Yes, at the very time that we are expected to say “thank you” to the people around us, something arises that paralyzes us or worse, drives us to express criticism, anger or nastiness. That something is resentment.

Imagine the scene that most of us have probably experienced.

We are to gather at the family house for the key dinner, party or get-together. We are about to enter the house and already we are on edge; there is an uncomfortable feeling. We probably are not even aware of it consciously but we are irritable, short-tempered, frustrated or we have simply shut down and gone quiet.

People are greeting each other. Some of the smiles appear sincere while others just frown or mumble as they say “hello” and declare the Holiday greeting with an almost flat tone of voice.

Oh, here comes that one person that you were dreading the most. You do your best to avoid him or her but you just can’t – the house is too small and you are not allowed to run to the car. Maybe worse, you are hoping to run into him or her because for a long time you have been waiting for this opportunity to give him or her a piece of your mind.

A few words are exchanged and very soon, an argument ensues and someone says something hurtful.

You walk away confused how this day that was supposed to be about love, joy and gratitude turned out to be so awful and horrific. Perhaps you even quickly blame the culprit – the other person or, you simply conclude that he or she brings that out in you. “He made me react like that.”

Possibly no one realizes that the real cause of the problem was festering resentment.

That’s right. Someone did or didn’t do something and it still hurts and it still rings loud and clear in you. As the resentment brews throughout the year or years, eventually, with just the right spark, the flammable brew suddenly explodes into a fireball.

But what caused this resentment? It’s easy to say, “Well, the other person, of course!”

No, the other person did something or didn’t do something, and you responded with resentment.

And the resentment came from the expectation; the expectation that this person was supposed to have done this or that, behaved this way or that.

So we begin with an expectation, usually that the person should be or do better; that they should have been and should be perfect.

We refuse to forgive or release the anger and then it transforms to resentment and bitterness, and in time, possibly to revenge or vindictiveness.

And yet we are afraid to forgive him or her. If we do, all sorts of horrible things might happen, correct? “Maybe she will do it again, maybe she will think we are condoning her behavior, maybe she will hurt us again, maybe she will never understand how much pain she has caused unless we do not forgive her, etc.” We are so afraid to forgive. Our ego and pride might even say, “We can’t let her get away with that. She has to change. And anyway, I am right!”

The problem is that as we harbor that bitterness and resentment in our heart, there is no room for love or joy. And it simply acts as a soldier sent out to destroy our health and life and kill our relationships.

Sometimes the resentment and pain of the wounds and ego become so overpowering that we lose sight of how to set ourselves free of it.

And yet the answer is quite simple. See the world through that person’s eyes and admit and accept that we all make mistakes; we are all imperfect.

The destination is empathy and compassion, but it seems so far away when resentment seems to be the only path visible.

To arrive at empathy and compassion, we need to stop at the station where we can ask about why this person acted this way. What kind of upbringing did they have? What kind of childhood and what kind of parents did they have?

As we make more and more stops learning more and more about this person, we begin to understand that they are truly limited; limited by what they experienced and by what they were taught; limited by what they also missed out on – perhaps love, attention, a parent, validation, time, interest, recognition, praise, encouragement, affection, support. Perhaps they are limited by the abuse or criticism or poor training.

Yes, it would have been so truly magical had they been different; had they been raised different. But they weren’t. And so, there are many languages that this person was never taught – the language of patience, love, kindness, thoughtfulness, praise, etc.

And because they were never taught those one or two key languages that were probably crucial to their behavior and approach to life, they couldn’t express to you what you were wanting, what you were hoping for and expecting. They couldn’t express, teach or share with you the very things for which you long or still long.

We all missed out on some languages? Did someone teach you the language of forgiveness, patience, acceptance or letting go? Did someone teach you the language of gratitude?

Only when we master the language of empathy and compassion can we ensure that we board the right train to gratitude. And when we arrive at gratitude, we suddenly experience a whole new world, a world where we actually are released from the chains of resentment, now able to see and feel for the first time all the things for which we can say “thank you’ to this person, even if it is for the lesson we have learned and the new strength and wisdom we have gained.

If you would like help in forgiving, consider my “Get Over It package and combo” or “Feel good about yourself and be more confident” CD.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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