Holiday Stress: The Philosophy Of Gratitude

by Doc Orman, M.D.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and that means we’re supposed to reflect upon everything we have to be thankful for.  While this is an introspective and primarily self-centered way of looking at being thankful, I’d like to suggest an alternative viewpoint that may also be worthy of your consideration.

The Philosophy Of Gratitude

In a previous post, I pointed out that Hans Selye is widely regarded as the Father of modern stress research.  I also quoted a short passage from Selye’s 1956 book The Stress Of Life, where he talks about the importance of remembering that stress is just an abstraction (i.e., it’s just a concept and not something that independently exists in the world).

Well, in another part of his classic book, Selye talks about how to reduce stress in your life by choosing a life purpose that benefits other people.  He called this living by a “philosophy of gratitude.”

According to Selye, one great way to live life is to devote yourself to being of service to others—so much so that THEY are filled with gratitude because they have YOU in their life.

Here’s how Selye put it:

“…to incite gratitude in others is perhaps the most natural basis for a long-range view of man.  It can be hoarded throughout life and accumulated into a tremendous wealth, which more reliably than any other assures our security and peace of mind in this world…It can be pursued through whatever talents one may have…It can be accumulated as long as you live, and even your offspring will benefit by it…And best of all, this is one type of selfishness for which you certainly need not dread censure: no one will blame you for hoarding avariciously the gratitude of your fellow men…I know of no other philosophy which necessarily transforms all our egoistic impulses into altruism without curtailing any of their self-protecting values.” (p. 290)

So when you’re celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, thinking about all the many things YOU have to be thankful for, think about how many people, at the very same time, are likely to be counting YOU as one of the things THEY are most thankful for.  Then spend the next 365 days trying to increase that number of people who will be thinking of you with fond gratitude, as best you can.

Here’s a link to my free holiday stress relief e-book on Facebook.

Here’s a link to some additional holiday stress relief information about helpind children deal with holiday stress from the American Psychiatric Association. 



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