"We live in a universe of gifts"- Diana Butler Bass
"Kids feel frustrated and lonely today because they are encouraged to feel that way," Miller tells FRONTLINE. "You know, advertising has always sold anxiety and it certainly sells anxiety to the young. It's always telling them that they are not thin enough, they're not pretty enough, they don't have the right friends, or they have no friends...they're losers unless they're cool. But I don't think anybody, deep down, really feels cool enough, ever." - Mark Crispin Miller Media Critic, The Merchants of Cool, Frontline PBS
Gratitude might be one the of the most counter-cultural acts we can practice in today.
From the time we are very young we are taught how to view the world through a critical lens. It is a practice that has served us as a culture very well. Everything from modern medicine to good music can to some degree be attributed to our training and the ability to think critically. Without this valuable tool, we would be without many of our greatest achievements and advancements.
Like any good tool, it has its place and function.
Also, like any good tool, it is not appropriate for all areas of life. Our critical training has run amuck in recent years and has become one of our greatest enemies. Around the early part of the 20th-century marketing began to find its feet in our country and started to evolve into the superpower it is today. Marketing experts began to realize that the best way to sell an item or a product is for a person to have a need for said product and the company would supply the solution for that need. Simple supply and demand. Eventually, companies realized that this line of thinking could only take them so far. There is a true limit to the number of things a person actually needs. Marketing firms realized with a slight nuance they could create and sell more products than ever before. They would only have to create more demand, not for existing products that were already meeting needs, but rather for products that would meet needs that individuals did not know they had.
Marketing had found a new niche, the creation of need, or more bluntly the creation of deficit.
Now, modern marketing works off of two primary principles: Creating the feeling of lacking or wanting in its audience and fill that void with short-term upgrade based solutions. This feeling of frustrated feeling of deficiency then drives markets and commerce to places it has never known in human history.
While this is good for the markets it is detrimental to the soul.
Have you ever had to skip two meals? Ok, maybe even one meal? If you are like me you find yourself constantly thinking about your empty stomach, your deficit, your need. This is exactly what marketing is doing to us except that they convince us that we need a 20oz porterhouse after we just left an all you can eat buffet.
The average person sees around 10,000 advertisements a day, a day! This is in stark contrast to the 500 a day people would see in the 1970's. Can you imagine what that has done to our psyche's? Over 10,000 messages a day telling us that we are wanting, needing, without and deficient. Over 10,000 messages a day telling us that we do not have and are not enough. That is why gratitude is so subversive and countercultural and might be the only thing that can save our lives.
In gratitude, we deny the message of deficiency and replace it with a message of grateful contentment. We replace our longing with calm and our need with satisfaction. When we practice gratitude daily and especially in community we begin to replace the psychological framework of deficiency with a framework of having all that we need.
We become bad consumers and at the same moment better people.
Study after study has shown that people who practice gratitude on a regular basis are happier, healthier, more spiritual, more grounded in their community and optimistic. It makes us better citizens, improves our sleep, increases our energy and resilience, and has even been shown to improve one's marriage.
Now that is a sales pitch I could get behind.
For more check out the Podcast Episode 1- Gratitude