Shut Up and Be Grateful

Shut Up and Be Grateful

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The fact that you’re reading this sentence means that you are richer and more educated than 99.5% of people in human history. It means you have almost immediate access to over
half of all of the information and data ever created by the human race. It means you have the ability to educate yourself on subjects people previously spent their entire lifetimes to learn.

Hegel said that history is the process of freedom realizing itself. Assuming you’re in the western world, then you currently live in the most free and tolerant society that has ever existed. There is less racism and sexism than any other time in history. The world has more economic mobility than ever and traveling across borders is easier now than ever.

You may be unhappy with your love-life, but just a few generations ago, casual sex was an impossibility, contraception was a rarity, and you could be disowned by your family for fooling around with the wrong person. A few generations before that, you likely never went to school with someone of the opposite gender and your parents chose who you married. In some countries and regions, you could have been killed for sleeping with or even flirting with the wrong person.

Your family may frustrate you, but over 1/3 of the world only have one parent and 143 million children are growing up with no parents at all.

If you’re in college or you went to college, you are part of the lucky 7% worldwide elite. You’re unlikely to ever live at a subsistence level like almost 60% of the population and you surely won’t ever be starving like almost 25% of the world population.

be grateful

But you’ve heard stuff like this before. And it doesn’t actually help, right? Yeah, you’re lucky, but you still struggle with your confidence, you still feel socially anxious, you still suffer from feelings of inadequacy, you still stress about money/work/debt/family/friends. Your love life is still a mess. Sure, you’re eating well and you have a nice TV and car and you can do long division and code in PHP, but your life isn’t exactly peachy either.

For decades, research has tied gratefulness and appreciation to happiness. People who are happier tend to be more grateful and appreciative for what they have.

But what they’ve also found is that it also works the other way around: consciously practicing gratitude makes one happier. It makes one appreciate what one has and helps one to remain in the present moment. Practicing gratitude increases accountability which directly leads to higher self esteem and happiness. Not to mention it makes one more pleasant to be around and creates a more magnetic personality.

Your parents may be smothering and obnoxious, but they do it because they care about you and it’s the only way they know how to show it. Be grateful you have people who love you, even if they don’t show it in the way you wish they did. Use it as an opportunity to help them, communicate with them, develop a better relationship with them.

You may be overweight, but at least you’ve enjoyed plenty of good food and have the knowledge and capability to get thin and look great. Use it as an opportunity to set goals and improve yourself.

You may be single and lonely, but at least you live in a society which accepts open communication between men and women, is liberal about dating practices, and at least you always the means to get out there and improve your situation.

You may not be the person you want, but at least you have the self-awareness and drive to notice what you’re unhappy with and the desire to do something about it. You are part of the first generation in human history that has truly discovered we are always capable of improving our lives, socially, emotionally, professionally and financially. In the past, people assumed if they were born into it, they were screwed.

You’ve been blessed. Even if you rarely realize it. All of us here have.

And you’ll keep forgetting this unless you remind yourself. Remind yourself regularly. Choose to be grateful. Remember how it could be worse, it could always be worse.

The human mind naturally over-emphasizes the negative. Psychologists have found that the loss of something is three to four times more painful than the joy of gaining the same thing. It’s an unfortunate mechanism that has kept our species alive and thriving but also keeps many of us in a constant state of irritation and stress.

It’s why negative news gets reported and spread so much more readily. It’s why we can’t turn away from a car accident or two people fighting. It’s why it’s so much more tempting to relate to others through complaining and gossip rather than through gratitude. It’s easier.

This isn’t to say one must ignore what’s wrong or broken with the world. I’m the last one to pretend everything is unicorns and rainbows. It’s just to say that when things seem shitty, don’t forget what’s good, true and beautiful. Remember to shut up and be grateful.

Gratitude is the skill of happiness. It’s the cure for an emotional vampire. And it is indeed a skill. It requires practice and effort and habit. But it’s a skill anyone can learn and anyone can do. And you can start it today, right now.

Do it every morning when you wake up, while you brush your teeth, look in the mirror and think of five things you’re grateful for. Pick someone and tell them this week that you’re grateful for them or for something they did. Chances are it will make you feel better than them. Chances are you’ll feel far more comfortable around them and your relationships will begin to improve.

(Sidenote for the thick-headed: When showing appreciation for someone or something, it should be genuine and not designed to get them to like you. This should be obvious to any emotionally-functioning adult, but I figured I’d drop it in here because you never know who comes by these days.)

Mark temporarily became a Care Bear for this article. He’ll be back to his bad ass self shortly.

Genuine appreciation: It may feel fruity or weird sometimes. Hell, even writing this post is making me feel kind of like a Care Bear. But I’m cool with that. That resistance is a lack of vulnerability that I still haven’t completely worked through. So I feel a bit weird, but that means I’m doing something right here. Opening up to that builds confidence and healthier relationships.

If it feels small or hard, start small and post something on Facebook or in the comments below. Just try it once a day, for a week. See what happens. I promise nothing bad will happen.

I’ll start: even when people criticize me, misunderstand me, or send me ridiculous emails comparing me to Satan or a sandy vagina, I’m grateful for this blog and how much it enriches my life. The benefits and joys of running it are more than worth the occasional rotten apples that periodically pop in. And reminding myself of that make it all that much better.

So thank you to all of you who make doing this so worthwhile and fulfilling.

OK, now it’s your turn. And if it still feels weird, I promise being grateful doesn’t make you any less manly. Come on, haven’t you seen I Love You, Man before? If it makes you feel better, feel free to add some “fucking” and “bro” into your appreciation statements in between crushing beer cans on your forehead.

For example: “Bro, you’re the fucking man when it comes to listening to my whiny bullshit. Thanks. I really appreciate it. Want another pretzel?”

See? That wasn’t so hard…

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52 Comments

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  • Reply

    Max Nachamkin

    2 months ago

    Very true.
     
    I’ve found that in my life, the times that were dark was when I consistently thought about all the negative things.
     
    One of my mentors told me a quick trick — think of 3 things that you’re grateful for each night before you go to sleep. It could be something that you appreciate, or even something successful that you did today. 
     
    It’s amazing. It must be the fact that I’m doing it before bed too where it sits in my unconscious for 8 hours. It helps me internalize it mentally.
     
    I started doing this nightly and my mindset has been starting to change significantly. I, too, have gotten some negative comments on my writing, but the majority of it has been positive. And it’s important to keep that positive mindset so that the bad ones don’t de-rail you. 
     
    The world needs some more love in it, especially for ourselves. Like this advice, man.
     
    Rock on,
     
    Max

  • Reply

    PgcDave

    2 months ago

    Gratitude is one of the easiest things to overlook. Sometimes I feel like there are so much more important things I can be doing, and I put it off until a later time. This is stupid. Building the habit of being grateful is so important, and sometimes you need to knock yourself down a peg to truly appreciate everything you have. Thanks for the kick in the ass, once again, Mark. Even if it was from your mushy care bear self.

  • Reply

    Russ_Garcia

    2 months ago

    damn dude, you are great. I’m really glad I read this right now. I’m down here in South America living abroad/the dream and sometimes I find myself not nearly as grateful as I should be for little reasons. thanks for the reminder.

  • Reply

    TheoJ91

    2 months ago

    Mark bro, you are set to change the lives of thousands of men in a great way, including mine. And I thank you for that! Bro.

  • Reply

    GetIntoEnglish

    2 months ago

    A very timely post, Mark

  • Reply

    ElliottCrane

    2 months ago

    Mark, thank you for writing. You seem to have an incredible grasp on the strengths and struggles of our generation and where most authors, self-help enthusiasts, pick up artists, and other entrepreneurs have fallen short. While I may not have improved myself much since I began reading your blog and books (I’m kind of a self-help addict–like the feeling of knowing and then move on), you have laid down a path for how to get there. And I have certainly not stuck with any self help for this long. I really appreciate your active involvement with your community of readers and quick responses to all of my emails; it makes me feel like I matter, despite your fantastic growth in popularity. Thank you for working so hard and not giving up on us!You are an inspiration and a much needed role model for the confused men of my generation. I feel a little like a Mark Manson groupie/whore right now. Cheers.

  • Reply

    Joao Antunes

    2 months ago

    I was the fastest sperm among millions! BOOM!

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @Joao Antunes Hahahaha!

    • Reply

      timfraser123

      2 months ago

      @Joao Antunes Not the fastest actually, but probably one of the strongest: http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/why-does-it-take-millions-sperm-fertilize-egg

  • Reply

    Schmechti

    2 months ago

    I am most grateful to have met my girlfriend. To meet and get to know someone who you really love and want to share your life with is something we only have limited influence of. You need to be at the right place at the right time.

  • Reply

    Matty

    2 months ago

    “This isn’t to say one must ignore what’s wrong or broken with the world.”  I would have liked to hear more about this.  Good article, and very true, but it’s not enough to just throw your hands up and go “wow, i’m so lucky” when 60% of the world lives at a subsistence level and 25% is starving.  I don’t want to lecture you on your responsibilities, but i’d love to hear more in articles like this on what actions one can take to help what’s wrong or broken with the world.

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @ Matty I think this is a different topic and deserves its own article.

      • Reply

        Matty

        2 months ago

        @postmasculine Definitely, I look forward to it.

    • Reply

      John Robertson

      2 months ago

      @ Matty i couldn’t agree less. one of things i admire about this blog is that i don’t get quasi political lectures.

      • Reply

        Matty

        2 months ago

        @John Robertson  @ Matty Being connected to the world around you and living in a constructive, helpful way is a quasi political lecture…thanks for the input Johnny.

        • Reply

          abacaxicara

          2 months ago

          @ Matty  @John Robertson 
           
          How much good can you do in the world if you’re miserable and hating your life?
           
          First we must sweep our own doorsteps before we help our neighbors.  Teach people how to love themselves and appreciate what they have and the rest will follow.

  • Reply

    jasonsmi

    2 months ago

    This. This is so true Mark. I dug myself out of a deep depression by learning to be grateful. May I recommend Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” This book really hit that point home with me. Thanks for posting.

  • Reply

    metamitya

    2 months ago

    Humans always adapt to their current context. We are adaptability machines. That’s why once we surpass some baseline level of subsistence, regardless of our circumstances, rich or poor, married or single, we tend to settle on some “normal” emotional state.That is unless we start making a conscious effort and adopt a posture of improvement. Building the habits that you talk about is definitely a great way to do that.

  • Reply

    Traindom

    2 months ago

    “Psychologists have found that the loss of something is three to four times more painful than the joy of gaining the same thing.” 
     
    Did you mean “powerful” as opposed to “painful”?

    • Reply

      Will Macsherry

      13 weeks ago

      Traindom, No, he meant what he said because it’s true. Humans over-perceive danger, threat, or loss because our central nervous system evolved to avoid those things above all else. It’s far more important to survive than to be happy, in other words. Remember that our brains didn’t evolve to maximize happiness in the 21st century, they evolved to keep us alive in a world of saber-toothed tigers, hostile enemies, and real threats to our existence. As a species, we’re far more concerned about threats or loss than we are about gains or positive outcomes, so our brains tend to emphasize negative stimuli and minimize or devalue potentially positive things. This is why insurance is so popular, powerful, and profitable – because we’re AFRAID of losing our home, our car, our assets, etc. In an objective, rational appraisal mindset, we’d be more likely than we are to make better financial decisions and evaluate our overall well being, as well as our potential for gain. If you can come to understand this reality, then you’ll be a much better decision maker and investor!

  • Reply

    LeePoff

    2 months ago

    I’m grateful for the gym. There has never been a time where I’ve gone and not felt better after going, and it makes me look fucking great and feel manly. I love you, gym!

  • Reply

    sloman23

    2 months ago

    I’ll be honest.  I’m thankful for people like you who can be so honest with themselves, that something so true and great as this blog is the product.  That’s gonna sound all kinds of fuzzy care bear bro, but I mean it.  I am a better person because I found your blog.  And I’d like to fucking thank you.

  • Reply

    ayjay

    2 months ago

    I am grateful for my ex’es leaving me.  Now, I can practice on how to be strong.  =)   But man, I’ll still do ‘em the moment they show up on my doorstep. XD

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @ayjay Haha, been there… My first girlfriend leaving me is still the best/worst thing that ever happened to me.

      • Reply

        GetIntoEnglish

        2 months ago

        @postmasculine mark, if it isn’t too personal, that’d be great to read..and how you ‘got to the mindset’ after that…

      • Reply

        ayjay

        2 months ago

        @postmasculine Hey Mark, out of curiousity… would you get back with your first girlfriend if she now wants you back?

  • Reply

    timfraser123

    2 months ago

    Mark bro, I am fucking grateful for this blog. I am grateful for my fellow PM bros, who put a lot of fucking thought in to their comments. I really appreciate that this resource of knowledge and support is here to help me sort my life the fuck out. I am thankful for the miracle that none of my immediate family or bros (and female bros, don’t think there was any fucking way I could forget about you) have been involved in an unfortunate incident that left them dead as a fucking door nail. I’m fucking psyched that I was born and  grew up with no major health problems, that I don’t appear to be genetically predisposed to any diseases (physical or mental) that would limit my ability to be a fucking awesome bro, and that I am as handsome a fuck as I could really wish to be. Thank fuck that I worked hard enough at school, university and life in general that at 23, as difficult and uncertain as my immediate future may be, I’m definitely not fucked. My warmest fucking regards to the big fucking bang and my sincerest fucking gratitude to the countless fucking stellar bros who came before me and worked themselves to the fucking bone to make my existence pretty much a fucking piece of piss, all things considered. It’s worth broaching the subject of how absolutely fucking fantastic the various women who have come and gone (or stayed around) in my life. Thank fuck for you, thank fuck for your beautiful love and affection, and thank fuck for the fucking. While we’re on the topic of fucking, thanks to my parents for making that fucking good choice, without which I would not be writing this. Also, my deepest praises to the fucking brilliant scientists who invented artificial insemination, which allow me to live in the constant denial that the aforementioned fucking ever fucking happened. Fuck… I’m fucking stunned at how much I have to be thankful for. For the sake of fucking brevity, here’s a list of things I’m fucking thankful for: -Good writing, especially Salinger, Franzen, David Fucking Foster Wallace (my fucking favourite writer bro), Rowling, Tolkien, Fitzgerald, Dickens, Marquez, Rushdie, and more.  -Good movies, especially Bend it Like Beckham, Synecdoche, New York, James Bond, Citizen Kane, The Last Samurai, L’Armee Des Hombres, and more.  -Good TV, especially The Wire, The Sopranos, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Boston Legal, How I Met Your Mother, Skins, and more. -New Zealand, Medellin, Boston, Paris, and any other place I’ve lived long enough to meet some bros and think of as home. -Everywhere in the fucking world I’ve traveled to, and everywhere I’ll ever go.  -The world wide fucking web. And Tim Berners-Lee for being such a bro.  -All music I have ever listened to ever. Special mentions to Radiohead, The Beatles and Kanye West for being so fucking brilliantly good.  -For getting fucking front row tickets for me and my bros to see LCD Soundsystem’s last fucking show.  -Substances to get fucked up on, especially alcohol which I have given up on many fucking times, but has never given up on me. -Brene Bro-wn.  -The amusement I will one day get when parts of this post get taken out of context and lose me a fucking job interview or some other fucked up thing. 
     
    Finally, I’m fucking grateful for my work for not blocking this webpage.

    • Reply

      timfraser123

      2 months ago

      @timfraser123 Aw the formatting got fucked… bro.

      • Reply

        GetIntoEnglish

        2 months ago

        @timfraser123 Yeah, I have the same prob Tim. This livefyre gotta be shelved..

        • Reply

          Halo Effect

          2 months ago

          @GetIntoEnglish  @timfraser123 When that happens to me, and I delete my post and then try again, it usually works.

    • Reply

      ZacChamp

      2 months ago

      @timfraser123 “and that I am as handsome a fuck as I could really wish to be. ”
       
      Word.

  • Reply

    Matty

    2 months ago

    @John Robertson  @ Matty Being connected to the world around you and living in a constructive, helpful way is a quasi political lecture…thanks for the input Johnny.

  • Reply

    Matty

    2 months ago

    @postmasculine Definitely, I look forward to it.

  • Reply

    Iago

    2 months ago

    Mark, I will beggin follow your advice
    thanking You
    for all help you bring un my life through your wrinting!
     
    Thanks, tanks, tanks!
     
    Iago

  • Reply

    James___uk

    2 months ago

    Great article, it’s a way of life for me, I don’t complain because of how bad it is for people in the third world and it totally helps make you a happier person. Although I never considered how good I had it in the other ways you mentioned here

  • Reply

    Andrew Paul Schettino

    2 months ago

    Great post. I’ve been living in happiness for over 62 years. Got a lot happier after suviving being hit by a car in August, 1964, a couple weeks after I turned 14. Decided then that life was really precious and easy to lose, and enbraced my blessings. Had a former wife and former fiancee’ who both accused me of using up all the happiness by being so happy. Solved that, as indicated by the modifier “former”. Be happy. associate with happy people. Leave the negative and miserable ones behind, as Buddha pointed out long ago, other people will get their suffering needs met, you can’t change that. You don’t have to share it or faciliate it… Live!

  • Reply

    Kevin

    2 months ago

    Thank You Mark. Your posts has helped me adapt a healthier mindset towards life and help me get through depression. Your writing has helped me reanalyze my beliefs and see the best in people, friendships, and relationships versus my common pattern of self defeating thoughts, cynicism, and negativity.

    I find it all to easy to compare my situation with the things I don’t have or believe everyone is living a better life than me. I often forget / don’t spend enough time remembering I have a great family, friends, and great opportunities as a middle class white male. and being content/grateful for the good things I DO have in my life.

    Thanks again for getting me to pause and reflect on the whiny bitch side of me and realize, “You’re doing ok.”

  • Reply

    Isaac

    2 months ago

    I came across your webpage about a week ago and have learned and read so much. This is pure gold man, it’s a cool thing you got going on here. Knowledge is power and the more I read the more things make sense. Thanks bro

  • Reply

    Arun Suresh

    2 months ago

    Mark, I’m grateful for you and this site. Thanks man!

  • Reply

    CarolineMay

    1 month ago

    Lol@ the CareBear. That was my nickname when I was little. I appreciate your views a lot. It’s so true, sometimes you almost have to slap yourself….well you know what I mean, to remind yourself. Yes it always can be worse. Be grateful, always. Keep up the good work and spreading good messages.

  • Reply

    Razu

    1 month ago

    Thanks Mark, I am grateful to have you as one my teacher.

  • Reply

    mike

    1 month ago

    I really enjoy the articles here – thanks Mark. Just one thing about the layout: Is the text huge for everyone? Whenever I come here, I adjust my browser to display smaller text, and then re-adjust when I go back to other sites.

  • Reply

    Justin

    1 month ago

    Love it Mark! This is a great TED talk that talks about gratitude – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXy__kBVq1M

  • Reply

    Jassy Onya'e

    1 month ago

    I am so glad that my friend facebooked me your blog link because it’s definitely inspiring. I am grateful that you wrote this article and many other great ones that inspired me to be a better, and more positive person. Thank you !

  • Reply

    Xeronimo

    22 weeks ago

    Hi Mark, usually I’m quite wary of all these self-help types and sites. But your articles here are really, really good. And free. I’m thankful for the high quality stuff you’re producing. I’m convinced your non-BS articles help a lot of people and make the world a little bit better. Rock on, dude!

  • Reply

    Freddie

    20 weeks ago

    Your blog pretty much changed my outlook, and for that, bro, I’m truly grateful!

  • Reply

    Kay

    20 weeks ago

    I have only just discovered your blog, but know that I will be reading it regularly. Your writing is exactly what I need to get out of my own head space (which can often be quite negative) and look at things another way. Thank you!

  • Reply

    Jennifer

    20 weeks ago

    I have often dreamed of writing a blog…but in yours you have covered everything I ever wanted to say and more. I LOVE every article I’ve read so far. I feel as though you and I could almost be the same person (if I had a little more education and I was a little better at expressing my thoughts…lol). You have a new fan.

  • Reply

    Corry

    20 weeks ago

    Thanks Mark! Awesome article among many great ones.

  • Reply

    April Seeper

    19 weeks ago

    I’m grateful for my family and friends, who’ve helped me become the person I am today, and who I know will support me in most of my adventures. I’m grateful for the people who took me in, the outstanding education I’ve gotten and continuing, and the job that allows me to work and go to school at the same time. Most of all, I’m grateful for the thinkers. The people who actually think about what they’re doing, who won’t let the answer “everyone else is doing it” justify their actions. These people make me motivated, knowing that there are people in this world who aren’t just flouncing about in materialistic aspirations. I’ve lost faith in my generation many times. The thinkers keep me moving, keep me wanting to protect this country, keep me motivated to fight for them, and keep me always mindful that an open mind is important.
    I’m also grateful for you, Mark. I know it’s cheesy (and kinda brown-nosing, but I don’t care at this point) , but your articles have articulated thoughts that have been in my mind for years. Seeing them in the open, and knowing that other people read it, understand it easily, and are moved by them makes me grateful. You are making changes, you’re a mover and shaker. It’s impressive. Keep up the great work Mark.

  • Reply

    Soso

    12 weeks ago

    I already was aware of the exceptional chance to be part of the 7% (I would say 1% meaning, being graduate, having a job, 2 parents). But I never realized that “being grateful” had something related with my level of happiness. I think you are right… I will try my best from now. Thank you bro!

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