One More Benefit of Practicing Gratitude:
It Can Help You Stay Raw!
By Victoria Boutenko
When we adopt a raw food lifestyle, we may feel deprived of our habitual pleasures, especially when we watch others enjoying cooked delicacies that used to be our own favorites. Being hungry, angry, lonely, or depressed at that moment could add even more frustration to our feelings of misery. I would like to share with you a method that can help eliminate feelings of deprivation from your life forever.
We all have different perspectives on life. Some of us feel that life is becoming increasingly more frustrating, especially considering all the natural cataclysms and political challenges. At the same time, others view life as a totally beautiful and enjoyable experience. Initially, I thought that our opinions on the fairness of life depended on the level of our material wealth. Later, I met some poor people who were content with their lives and wealthy persons who were deeply upset about their lives. While watching many people caught in a material pursuit (including myself) I developed a strong interest in the true origins of people’s contentment in life. I came to the conclusion that there are two opposite perspectives on life: the materialistic perspective and the grateful perspective.
The materialistic approach to life guarantees discontentment and frustration, as there is no objective limit to the acquisition of personal possessions. There is no constant measure that could be marked as “enough.” At the same time, only the very basic possessions that satisfy our essential needs such as food, clothes, and shelter, can bring us a sensible feeling of contentment. The majority of the items beyond the basic needs convey very little enjoyment to their possessor.
Contrary to this, gratefulness inevitably leads us to becoming aware of the unlimited wealth that life holds for every one of us. Grateful people tend to be happier, more optimistic, more satisfied with their lives, than their less grateful counterparts. Michael E. McCullough, a professor from Florida, provides experimental evidence that gratitude leads to improvements in psychological and even physical well-being.
McCullough’s groundbreaking research demonstrates that “people who place too much emphasis on materialistic pursuits – people for whom obtaining wealth and material possessions takes priority over meaningful relationships, community involvement, and spirituality – tend to be unhappy people. In general, they are dissatisfied with their lives, and tend to experience high levels of negative emotion. They are at risk for a variety of mental disorders. In contrast, grateful people – people who readily recognize the many ways in which their lives are enriched by the benevolent actions of others – tend to be extraordinarily happy. They experience high levels of positive emotion and are generally satisfied with their lives.” 
Being constantly exposed to a vast variety of advertisement and financial challenges, we may increase our materialistic perception of life. According to McCullough’s research, gratefulness is such a powerful approach to life that it may reduce people’s materialistic strivings. 
I invite you to apply this valuable information about the power of gratitude to any situation in your life. Below, I am presenting two different approaches to watching another person consuming a cooked delicacy.
The materialistic approach:
What is that heavenly smell? Oh no! It’s pizza! Look at how they are enjoying it. How come I am not allowed to enjoy it? Am I a monk? They don’t look as if they are going to die. Can it be true that I will never again in my entire life be able to partake of such a pleasant meal? Oh, how lucky these fellows are! I wish I could enjoy pizza now as they do! What torture, poor me. Oh that aroma… it brings tears to my eyes. So many of the sweetest memories come to mind, the best times. Now, they are over. E-eh.
The grateful approach:
That smell is oddly familiar. Wow, pizza. I had a lot of it in my life! More than one could dream of. Now it is time to take care of my health. Yeah, health is my priority now. All these people eating pizzas will be delighted to discover a healthy diet in their time. I am grateful that I am on a healthy diet already. I do feel a lot better. I am so glad that I will not have to be sick again. In only fifteen minutes I will be home. What do I have in my fridge? Those hass avocados I bought yesterday should be perfectly ripe today. It will only take a couple of minutes to prepare guacamole with lemon, tomatoes, and jalapeno. Uh, my mouth is watering! I have fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes and a giant organic mango that will be so yummy and nourishing. Oh, I am looking forward to my raw dinner that will leave me feeling light and wonderful. I greatly appreciate what the raw food diet is doing for my body and mind. How fortunate I am! What a blessing life is.
To develop a grateful attitude, we need to practice one simple activity— notice the positive sides of events in our lives. The very best way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. Buy yourself a notebook and start writing three to five grateful notes daily. I think that we should be grateful not only for the positive but also the negative experiences. Often, it is the most painful events in our lives that shape the qualities in ourselves we value most.
Practicing gratitude can make your life on a raw food diet more enjoyable and will have a positive impact on your health, your mood, and your life in general.
 Emmons, A., McCullough, M. The Psychology of Gratitude. Oxford University Press, USA, 2004
 Polak, E., McCullough, M. Is Gratitude an Alternative to Materialism? Journal of Happiness Studies, 2006, DOI 10.1007/s10902-005-3649-5
 McCullough, M., Kilpatrick, S., Emmons, R., Larson, D. Is gratitude a moral affect? Psychological Bulletin, 2001, #127
- thanks to Victoria Boutenko, www.RawFamily.com.