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By Danny W. Pettry II, M.Ed., M.S., LPC, NCC, CTRS-BHS

On Ingratitude:

Ingratitude is an attitude that is unthankful, ungrateful, and unappreciative.

People who choose an ungrateful attitude are people repellants. They push other people away.

Imagine an ungrateful person replying to a holiday gift by saying, “That $25 gift card to amazon was a dumb idea. What can I do with only $25?”

As a result, the giver might be less likely to send a holiday gift card again to avoid such hard criticism. The giver might not want to come around this person as often.

It’s basic cause and effect. Ingratitude is bad for our mental health as well as our interpersonal relationships.

On Choosing our Attitudes

Can we choose a different attitude?

You bet we can.

Victor Frankl was a doctor who survived the German concentration camps during World War II. Frankl said, ““Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Most people couldn’t imagine the struggles a person must have experienced to be in a concentration camp. If a person like Vrankl can choose gratitude then I imagine it is possible for the rest of us.


People are often a mind explosion when they realize that they can choose their own attitude.

If a person can choose ingratitude then they can change and choose an attitude of gratitude.

On Gratitude:

Gratitude is absolutely the way to bring more into your life, according to Marci Shimoff, Author of Happy for No Reason.

person who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected.

Imagine if you baked cookies and gave them to your co-workers for a holiday. How would you feel if one of your co-workers said, “wow, those were the best cookies I’ve ever had. I loved those. Will you share your recipe with me?

As you guess, that person is going to feel appreciated and values. They’re more likely to bake good again.


On Freewill and Choice:

The choice is ours to make. We can choose an attitude of:

Ingratitude and push others away; or

Gratitude and attack others our way.


Application to helping people in treatment, recovery or the community

It’s simple.

Teach people about the power of gratitude.

I [Danny Pettry] provide a daily gratitude exercise for group members.

Each group member is asked to share one to three things that she is grateful for today.

Some people use this time to complain, whine, and moan about life. They’re real Debbie Downers. I don’t want to be that way.

Some people working in recovery choose to full heartedly take time to express gratitude for the good things in life. These people are uplifting, encouraging, and enthusiastic. Other like minded people feel a natural attraction towards them. Other people want to spend more time with them.



Activity Idea:

Think of one thing you’re grateful for and then attribute everything and everyone that made this one thing possible.


Danny’s Example:

I’m grateful for coffee.

But it is so much more than coffee.


I’m grateful for:

  • A Higher Power that created this world and decided to give us coffee.
  • Farmers who grow coffee beans in the coffee belt of the world.
  • The coffee-bean pickers who pick the coffee beans and let them dry.
  • The people who roast the coffee beans.
  • The people who ground up the coffee beans
  • The people who package the coffee in cans or bags.
  • The transporters who drive these coffee bags to stores around the world.
  • The road workers who paved the roads so the drivers can transport the coffee.
  • The tax payers who gave money so these roads can be created.
  • The boats and airplanes that transport coffee.
  • The people who created the boats, airplanes, trucks to deliver the coffee.
  • The people who worked in oil fields, and processing plants to provide the fuel so the transporters can transport coffee.
  • The person who invited the coffee pot.
  • The factory workers who create coffee pots
  • People who created plastics (for coffee pots)
  • The people who created glass products (like the actual glass coffee pot).
  • The innovative engineers who created a timer so my coffee pot can automatically start brewing coffee 30 minutes before I wake up on the weekends.
  • A Higher Power who created H20 and filled this planet with an abundance of water.
  • The people at the water cleaning and filtrations plant who make sure we have clean water.
  • The people who installed water pipes right into our homes and businesses so we can have clean water.
  • Electricity so we can brew our coffee.
  • Benjamin Franklin for learning how to harness electricity with his kite and key.
  • The people who put up telephone poles and powerlines so we can have electricity in our own home.
  • The people who created coffee filters. There were probably thousands of people who went into that product.
  • The people who created my coffee mug. It’s an ugly mug, but it’s not about the outside. What’s inside (the coffee) is important. Laugh aloud.
  • Speedway gas stations and their employees. They have the best coffee in my opinion.
  • I feel so happy and grateful to have that first sip of black Columbian coffee on my way to work every morning.

As you can see, this list can go on and on for a long time. I could easily go on for more. It’s not about the list. It’s about the attitude. It feels good.

Thank you for everyone who made coffee possible.


Other gratitude exercises:

  • A to Z gratitude list.
  • Thank you and appreciation cards
  • Thank you prayers/ gratitude prayer.
  • Taking time to smell the roses and enjoy life.
  • One thing you’re glad about for each letter of your name.
  • Telling at least one person what you appreciate about them daily.


Do you want to learn more about Positive Psychology?

You can earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) too.

We study depression and anxiety and give it a diagnosis.

We can also study happiness, joy, and gratitude too.

Click here to view self-study/ online CEU courses based on positive psychology