Zero-Based Gratitude

by Ray Reuter on July 19, 2011

I ran across the phrase “zero-based gratitude” the other day.  You likely have heard of “zero-based budgeting” which is when a budget is created from zero / nothing.  Zero-based budgeting is a contrast to traditional budgeting when one starts with a previous budget, and then either increases or decreases it from there.  This method invites comparisons – more or less than the previous year, month, day.  It also encourages a bit of complacency and deceptive expectations.  We simply may assume and expect something because it was in the budget last year, or we did it last time, or that’s the way it was before.

Applying that attitude toward gratitude, we can easily find ourselves in the trap of taking things for granted, or being disappointed when things do not meet our “comparison” expectations.  In other words, we are incremental when it comes to gratitude.  We’re thankful if we acquire a new client, or increase revenues, or reduce expenses, or lose weight.  We’re ungrateful when we lose a client, gain weight, have an unexpected expense, someone treats us worse than before, or don’t get as much sleep as we planned.

The pleasant alternative is to start each day from a baseline of zero – no expectations.  Everything is new, fresh, exciting.  I wake up and am grateful for breath, a warm bed, lights, running water, the ability to walk and talk.  Wow!  I am grateful to have a customer to serve, a computer to type on, a car to drive, an office, co-workers, and so forth.  Starting from scratch, we would see the little things and basics often overlooked, as well as the bigger things, because ALL would be new.  Each moment would be unfettered.

So start each day “zero-based” … and be grateful for all that you receive in the present, without regard to whether it is more or less than you had in the past, or what you might have in the future.


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