Gratitude and Chicken Guts

 In Focusing on the positive

When it comes to thinking about gratitude, it’s common to reflect on those things we appreciate in our lives.  But there are many twists we can take with gratitude.  For instance, we can be grateful for things we DON’T have.  There was a time I was a scientist at a chicken company.  My job was to analyze the feed and the chicken meat.  I vividly remember the few trips I took to the plant where they processed the chickens.  As I walked through the cold, refrigerated building, I would see all these people standing at the conveyor belts pulling out chicken guts.   The idea of handling dead chickens all day long in the freezing cold definitely made my job seem like a cake-walk and I was grateful I didn’t have their job instead.

Now don’t get me wrong – I did not pity these people.  I was empathetic to their complaints and, as I listened, it would remind me of all the good things in my work.  I believe we can practice compassion and appreciation in many of the struggles people encounter.

For example, when I’m feeling sick, it makes me really look forward to feeling better.  AND I hope it serves as a reminder to others around me to appreciate their health.   When I was working as a scientist in Madison, WI, people would express concern over my hour long commute.  I told them this was my choice but hopefully it would also make them appreciate their 10 minute commute.

This idea can be controversial because we are told it isn’t healthy to compare ourselves to others.  However, I have found that in addition to feeling empathy for those who are dealing with challenges, I can also use it to find gratitude.  What are your opinions and experiences with this?  Please share your thoughts and stories below.


Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is a professional speaker and consultant for The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations fulfill their true potential using strategies from the science of Positive Psychology.

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