Cover of 'X Life Lessons to Live By' book – a collaboration between the author and Chat GPT, offering extensive self-help guidance and tools for mental well-being, specially curated for Mental Health Month, May 2023.

Chapter 2: Learn the skill of being Grateful

Chapter 2: Learn the skill of being Grateful

Many self-help/business books operate on a premise about the potential readers of the book. A set of assumptions about a hypothetical reader is made even before the book is written by the author with the help of the publisher. Having read many of them in my late 20s, I realized the basic premise is almost universal among all of these kinds of books. I make no apologies or illusions in writing that I also make assumptions about a potential reader who comes across this book one day. Here is a list of some of the assumptions self-help books make about their readers:

  1. That a hardship in life has brought the reader to the book, and the reader is seeking help to solve a problem.
  2. That the reader is ahead of other people who do not read self-help books because only a small percent of the population read books.
  3. The knowledge contained in said book is useful and, if properly applied, will lead to financial success. And if it does lead to financial success, then the program or conference that the author also sells will most certainly lead to success for the people who spend money to go to it.
  4. That the reader is in some kind of state of stagnation, where they have achieved a certain level of success and have plateaued. By reading the book, they can achieve new peaks and valleys at a higher level because the information is new, exciting, and different from anything else in the past.

This is why I think most self-help books are scammy, and even though they contain some useful and helpful information about psychology and business, they can lead to some negative things. Most people go about their lives every day, pretty much just fine, having never picked up a self-help book in their entire life. They raise happy and well-rounded children and have decent enough relationships. Which is why I would say most self-help books are a waste of time.

So why am I writing one? No other reason is needed other than because I enjoy writing and want to. Part of my journey in life was, at one point in time, a consumer of self-help books and psychology. I fell into the trap of reading so many books that the information contained in one book did not have time to sink in and osmosis itself into my brain. That is because I was on to the next book the minute after I finished one. I haven’t picked up a self help book in 5 years, I started “Present Moment Awareness” and before I finished the first chapter it told me to put the book down and go do something useful. So I drove home from Barnes and Noble in Fairfield CA hopped on my computer and began writing whatever was going on between my ears. I’ve been writing off and on ever since, which is something I find to be more useful.

I am also currently learning the Italian language through a subscription to Babbel, which I find more useful than other activities I could be doing. But what does this have to do with gratitude? Simply put, any kind of learning process involves consuming a lot of information, forgetting 70-90% of it, and only remembering a fraction of what we have read. We repeat this process over and over again until we reach a level of understanding of a topic we feel is sufficient. This is often followed by the realization that we may be developing a big head and a reputation as a know-it-all, which is then followed by the realization that we actually know nothing, and we start the process all over again. The learning process never ends as long as we are alive.

If there is just one thing I hope you take away from this book, it is the importance of gratitude and how it can help improve your life. Gratitude is a simple concept that is in every other self-help book. However, this one is written with the help of Chat GPT, so it's a little different.

Chat GPT on Gratitude and the Learning Process

The Science of Learning and How Gratitude Can be a Secret Ingredient in Improving the Learning Process

Learning is a complex process that involves various cognitive, neural, and behavioral processes. Whether we are learning a new skill, acquiring new knowledge, or developing new habits, the process of learning requires effort, persistence, and patience. While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for effective learning, there are some factors that can significantly enhance the learning process. One such factor is gratitude.

Gratitude is a positive emotion that involves acknowledging and appreciating the good things in one's life. While gratitude may seem like a simple concept, it has powerful effects on our mental and physical well-being. Research shows that gratitude can reduce stress, improve sleep, enhance relationships, and increase happiness. But can gratitude also improve the learning process? Let's take a closer look at the science of learning and how gratitude can be a secret ingredient in improving the learning process.

The Science of Learning

Learning is a complex and dynamic process that involves various cognitive and neural processes. At a fundamental level, learning can be defined as the acquisition of new knowledge, skills, or behaviors through experience or study. However, the process of learning is not a one-way street. Rather, it is an iterative process that involves the integration of new information with existing knowledge, skills, and beliefs.

There are several key factors that underlie the science of learning. These include attention, memory, feedback, motivation, practice, and context. Attention is critical for learning, as it helps us focus on what is relevant and filter out distractions. Memory is essential for encoding, storing, and retrieving information. Feedback provides information on how well we are performing and helps us adjust our behavior accordingly. Motivation can impact learning by influencing how much effort we put into learning and how much we retain. Practice is essential for strengthening neural connections and consolidating new information into long-term memory. Finally, context can impact the way we learn and retain information by influencing the environment, social cues, and cultural norms.

Gratitude and the Learning Process

While gratitude may not directly enhance the learning process, it can have indirect effects on learning by improving a person's mood, motivation, and overall well-being. Here are some ways in which gratitude may indirectly enhance the learning process:

  1. Improving motivation: Gratitude can increase motivation by reminding individuals of the positive outcomes that come from learning and growth. For example, feeling grateful for a job opportunity may increase motivation to learn new skills to excel in that job.
  2. Reducing stress: Gratitude has been shown to reduce stress levels, which can impair cognitive function and hinder learning. By reducing stress, gratitude may improve focus and attention, making it easier to learn and retain new information.
  3. Enhancing resilience: Gratitude can help individuals develop a sense of resilience and optimism, which can help them bounce back from setbacks and challenges that can be common in the learning process.
  4. Building social connections: Gratitude can foster social connections by promoting prosocial behavior and enhancing positive interactions with others. This can create a supportive learning environment that encourages growth and development.

In addition to these indirect effects, gratitude may also enhance the learning process by promoting a growth mindset. A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence, skills, and abilities can be developed through effort and practice. By cultivating gratitude, individuals may be more likely to adopt a growth mindset, which can lead to greater persistence, effort, and engagement in the learning process.


Learning is a complex and dynamic process that requires effort, persistence, and patience. While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for effective learning, there are some factors that can significantly enhance the learning process. Gratitude is one such factor that can indirectly improve learning by enhancing motivation, reducing stress, promoting resilience, and fostering social connections. Additionally, gratitude may also promote a growth mindset, which can lead to greater persistence, effort, and engagement in the learning process.

So, how can we cultivate gratitude to enhance the learning process? Here are some practical tips:

  1. Practice gratitude journaling: Take a few minutes each day to write down things that you are grateful for. This can help you focus on the positive aspects of your life and cultivate a sense of appreciation.
  2. Express gratitude to others: Take the time to thank others for their help, support, or encouragement. This can strengthen relationships and promote a sense of community.
  3. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can help cultivate a sense of gratitude by increasing awareness of the present moment and the positive experiences that are happening around us.
  4. Focus on growth: Instead of focusing on mistakes or setbacks, try to reframe them as opportunities for growth and learning. Adopting a growth mindset can help promote resilience and persistence in the face of challenges.

In conclusion, gratitude is a powerful tool that can enhance the learning process by improving motivation, reducing stress, promoting resilience, fostering social connections, and promoting a growth mindset. By cultivating gratitude in our daily lives, we can create a more positive and supportive learning environment that encourages growth and development.

The Fairy Tale of Gratitude

Developing the skill of learning to be grateful is an important ingredient in our pursuit of happiness. Gratitude, in many ways, is like the water that is used in a good homemade stock. It absorbs the flavors of the bones, vegetables, and herbs you put in it. Gratitude is a practice that takes a long time to develop. Much like a stock that can take hours to extract the full flavor of the other ingredients inside of it, gratitude takes time to work its magic. You can't just write a few things you are grateful for for a week or so and expect every problem in life to be solved by a magical cat or fairy godmother.

To take charge and be in the driver's seat of one's life takes dedication, time, patience, habits, and, well, a lot of work. Expecting others to do things for you is not what life should be. People (a.k.a horrible bosses) who are in charge of employees can often fall into this thinking trap. They are the evil stepmother and stepsisters of Cinderella, making her do all of the housework while they live in comfort off her hard work and have all the fun.

Statistically, this is not just a fairy tale. There are real-life issues related to unpaid household work. In prior books, I have labeled this phenomenon as "Environmental Cues" and have given a good reason as to why men should do more chores around the house. However, within the context of this life lesson, it would not be appropriate for me to expand on my prior writing. You will just have to purchase my other book to get that secret life hack.

Unpaid work is one of the things that I have personally done most of my life. My parents divorced when I was a child, and I was raised by a single father. It's been over 25 years since I've seen my mom. However, I do not view this as a sad tale but as a great opportunity and benefit that my life has given me. From a very early age, I was shown how to do my own laundry. I began learning the lifelong skill of cooking before I became a teenager, and I have vacuumed and cleaned my own spaces my entire life. All of these have formed habits and routines that have been beneficial to my life in many different ways. Also, all of the books on relationships, like Love Languages, suggest that helping out more around the house as a man is beneficial to one's personal relationship. There is a lot of "LIFE" that happens in completing household chores and going to the grocery store and getting dinner on the table every night.

In the United States of America, women spend a little over 4 hours per day on unpaid household work, while men spend 2.5 hours per day. In Canada, women spend an average of 2.6 hours per day on household work, while men spend 1.6 hours. In Europe, women spend 2-3 times more hours per day doing unpaid household work. In China, women spend about 4 hours per day on household chores, and men spend 2.5 hours. Similar ratios exist in developing countries as well. These ratios are similar across different cultures, governments, religions, traditions, socioeconomic statuses, etc.

In short, the world has a Cinderella problem. Men sometimes act like the evil stepmother and stepsisters, making Cinderella do more housework. This book is not going to magically solve this global problem either. This is just a book and not a magical cat or fairy godmother.

The Cinderella story predates the Bible. Versions of the Cinderella story have been around for centuries. In Ancient Greece, during the 7th century B.C., there was the Greek myth of Rhodopis, about a Greek slave girl who marries the Pharaoh of Egypt after he finds her lost shoe. China had a similar story that dates back to the 9th century. The version we all know today began in Naples, Italy..

Naples, Italy in the late 1500s and early 1600s was one of the largest and most important capitals in all of Europe. It was ruled by the Spanish who, thanks to the discoveries of the New World by fellow Italians Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci, were a global superpower of the time. Naples was constantly attacked by other city-states and powers, so the idea of being used by the rich, wealthy, and powerful was nothing new during this period.

It was in this context that the Italian writer Giambattista Basile wrote "Cat Cinderella," which featured the heroine Zezolla. It was a story among other fairy tales in the book titled "Cunto de li Cunti," which translates to "Tale of Tales" in today's English. The setting of this story was Naples, Italy, and it is very similar to the version we all know today but with some minor changes.

Instead of a fairy godmother, it was a magical cat, which is a theme among other Italian fairy tales like "Puss in Boots" (also in the same book). However, this fairy tale does not have a happy ending or teach the lesson of gratitude like other versions of the story.

In this Italian version of the story, the evil stepmother is also her father's second wife and Zezolla's ex-governess. Zezolla's first evil stepmother was also abusive and cruel, and Zezolla, at the behest of her governess, murdered her first evil stepmother by slamming the lid of a chest on her neck. She then constantly pricked her father with a pin until he decided to marry her governess. Just to find out that her governess has six daughters and is just as evil as her prior evil stepmother. Needless to say, this Naples version is dark and does not have a lot of gratitude in it.

The gratitude part of the Cinderella tale was introduced a few years later by the French author Charles Perrault, who wrote a version in 1697. In this French version, the magical cat is replaced by a fairy godmother, along with some other minor changes in the story. The major changes are that Cinderella is portrayed as a nice person who is being used by others, and the murder is removed from the tale, with a happy ending instead. This version is the one that most of us learned as children.

The basic lesson from Cinderella is that she learned how to be grateful for what she had and was helped by others to achieve what she wanted at the end of the story. Cinderella is a kind, good person who receives help from her magical fairy godmother. She forgives her stepsisters, who mistreated her, and throughout the entire story, Cinderella is kind and nice, with good manners, a well-dressed outward appearance, a positive outlook, and a lack of greed. In this version, it was the Prince who goes to Cinderella's house to try on the glass slipper. Charles Perrault emphasized Cinderella's gratitude, grace, manners, and forgiveness, all of which are good personality traits to acquire for success in society.

Gratitude Table

One mental health trick I learned from my time in the world of political correctness in the California State Legislature is the ability to generalize a problem to a general topic and then discuss the specifics and dismiss the idea if it does not work. There are many bills and pieces of legislation that get dismissed every year; however, the process can also help people find things to be grateful for.

Psychologists usually ask people to write what they are grateful for in a journal, thereby creating a daily list of things the person is grateful for. Every statehouse, including Congress, also has a daily journal that features lists of rooms, committee members, and useful information. Basically, the legislative process works in a logical way. A piece of legislation is usually about something specific, therefore it must be passed by a committee that generally deals with various issues that surround the specific thing the bill is about. For example, a piece of legislation that does something for the environment goes to the Natural Resources Committee, or a bill that raises taxes is assigned to the committee on taxes, a bill that spends money on something is assigned to the Appropriations committee, and so on and so forth. The way business is done in legislatures has good logic in the process, even if the specific bill may have iffy logic.

From my own experience, I have found that it can be stressful to come up with things to be grateful for. It can become a repetitive, annoying mental health homework assignment if the only thing you can come up with every day are the same three to five things. Eventually, the goal is to expand your vocabulary and mental health awareness of the environment to a point where you break through barriers and have a full tank of gratitude. But that is a long and difficult road to get to.

To help with that, I have taken a page out of my experience in the CA legislature and applied the basic logic of specifics being assigned to a generalized topic to the world of gratitude journaling. It could be easier to find one thing per day to be grateful for in three of these topics instead of coming up with three things on your own. Feel free to change these topics or create your own Excel spreadsheet of gratitude. If you don’t like this idea, it’s 100% acceptable for you to dismiss it entirely like so many pieces of legislation end in committee every year.

Health & Well Being Relationships Personal Achievements Career Opportunities Nature & Environment Education & Learning Personal Strengths & Talent Cultural Experiences Technology & Innovation Freedom and Human Rights
Good physical health Loving spouse or partner Graduating from college A fulfilling and meaningful job Beautiful landscapes and scenery Access to education and learning opportunities Unique individual strengths and talents Exposure to different cultures and traditions Access to innovative technologies and tools The ability to live life free from discrimination and oppression
Access to healthcare Supportive friends Accomplishing a longterm goal Opportunities for growth and advancement Clean air and water Passionate and dedicated teachers The ability to use your strengths in meaningful ways The ability to learn from diverse perspectives Opportunities for creative problem-solving Freedom of expression and speech
Mental and emotional stability Strong family bonds Overcoming a challenge or obstacle Supportive colleagues and supervisors Access to parks and outdoor spaces Opportunities for intellectual growth and exploration Opportunities to showcase your talents Celebrating cultural diversity and differences Advancements in science and medicine Access to education and information
Ability to engage in physical actives Positive interactions with colleagues Starting a new job A positive work environment Opportunities for outdoor activities and adventures Exposure to diverse perspectives and ideas The ability to learn and develop new skills Opportunities for cross-cultural connections and understanding The ability to connect with others through technology The ability to practice your religion or belief system without fear of persecution
Supportive friends and family during illnesses A supportive and caring community Creating something new and meaningful The ability to make a difference through your work The diversity of plant and animal life Access to resources and materials for learning Overcoming self doubt and imposter syndrome Appreciation for cultural heritage and history Increased efficiency and productivity in daily life and work Freedom of movement and travel
The ability to rest and recharge People who inspire and uplift you Receiving recognition for your hard work Achieving success in your field A healthy and balanced ecosystem The ability to learn and grow at any age Discovering hidden strengths and talents Supporting and uplifting marginalized communities Opportunities for remote work and learning The right to vote and participate in democracy
Healthy coping mechanisms Kind and compassionate strangers Learning a new skill or hobby Receiving recognition for your contributions Opportunities to learn and connect with nature Developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills Being recognized for your strengths and contributions Breaking down stereotypes and biases Access t online resources and information The ability to marry and start a family with the person of your choice
Access to food Meaningful connections with people from different backgrounds Making a positive impact on someones life The ability to use your skills and talents in your work A sustainable and responsible approach to the environment Pursuing a lifelong love of learning Supporting and uplifting others through your strengths Embracing and celebrating individual cultural differences Innovations that improve quality of life The right to own property and pursue economic opportunities
Freedom from chronic pain Healthy boundaries and relationships Personal breakthroughs and moments of clarity Opportunities for professional development The beauty and wonder of the natural world The ability to share knowledge and teach others The ability to use your strengths to make a positive impact on the world Developing empathy and understanding for others Breakthroughs in renewable energy and sustainability The right to fair and just treatment under the law
Good sleep Opportunities for personal growth through relationships Taking steps towards personal development and growth A stable and secure job The ability to connect with something greater than oneself The transformative power of education A sense of pride and fulfillment in your abilities The ability toe create a more inclusive and fair world The ability to stay connected with loved ones across long distances The ability to speak out against injustice an fight for human rights for all

This was created by Chat GPT, and luckily, it tends to give generic answers, which is fantastic when trying to come up with things to be grateful for. Each one of these 100 ideas also has dozens of other things that could be linked to it as something to be grateful for. For example, good sleep could also mean being grateful for a safe place to call home, along with a bed, sheets, blankets, pillows, a nightstand, a loved one next to you to fall asleep with, and so on.

The world is your gratitude oyster.

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