Untangling You Book Summary - Untangling You Book explained in key points
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Untangling You summary

Kerry Howells

How can I be grateful when I feel so resentful?

4.5 (269 ratings)
25 mins

Brief summary

Untangling You by Kerry Howells is a guide to cultivating peace, joy, and purpose amid the chaos of daily life. It offers practical tools and insights for untangling the knots of stress, busyness, and disconnection and living a more fulfilling, authentic life.

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    Untangling You
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    Practicing gratitude leads you away from resentment and toward health and happiness.

    Here’s a short story for you about two old friends, Sarah and Dave. These longtime best buds made the bold move to get a place together – and that was the beginning of the end of their friendship. Sarah was clean and tidy, and Dave was more of a “free spirit.” Coexisting in the same space can be difficult. It takes communication and compromise. And Sarah and Dave weren’t engaging in either. Soon, Sarah began to withdraw. She was hurt and angry that Dave wasn’t even trying to do his part. Every spoon in the sink, sock on the floor, and light left on in an empty room added to her rage. The distress at home spilled over into the rest of her life. She wasn’t sleeping well, she had a hard time focusing on her studies, and her friends were tired of her complaining. Dave, meanwhile, was oblivious. One day, Sarah couldn’t take it anymore. Bitterly, she decided to move out. The end. 

    Might there have been a better way for Sarah to handle this conflict – a way that avoided bruised feelings, a broken friendship, and lasting resentment?

    This brings us to the first step in shifting from resentment to gratitude: finding your why. Sarah’s why, for instance, might have been to save her friendship with Dave. If she’d cherished their friendship more, she might have been able to shift her focus to the gratitude she felt for him. When finding your own why, make sure you find a reason that resonates – that motivates you to make the often difficult shift. Because there are so many benefits to practicing gratitude.

    Here’s one benefit: gratitude makes you feel connected. Being thankful for someone highlights your interdependence by acknowledging the other person’s value, and it takes inventory of what you’ve received from the relationship.

    Practicing gratitude can also remind you of someone’s good qualities. Research shows that gratitude, more than any other emotion, has the power to amplify the good thoughts and memories, and weaken the bad. With gratitude, Sarah could have reminded herself of the positive aspects of living with Dave instead of focusing on just the negatives. 

    Embracing gratitude can also dissolve resentment’s destructive illusions – resentment that makes you feel like you’re a controlling, hyperemotional, or unrealistic person. Gratitude imparts a sense of calm by showing you that you’re not powerless, that you have a choice in how you respond to your circumstances. You don’t have to stay stuck in negativity; there’s another way out.

    This sense of agency, calm, and connection that gratitude grants has a positive effect on your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Studies show that having a grateful disposition can help combat anxiety, stress, burnout, and depression – and it can result in better sleep, a healthier heart and immune system, and more energy. In short, gratitude can help you become more resilient to all the challenges that life throws at you. 

    Because life will throw them. And when you’re hurt, it can be easy to fall prey to resentment. Nelson Mandela was spot on when he said “resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Resentment harms and hardens only you as life around you moves forward and forgets. But in order to avoid it, you first need to see your resentment for what it is.

    Looking at resentment in terms of its opposite, gratitude, can be helpful in identifying it. Think about your relationships. Is there one where expressing any type of gratitude seems impossible?

    As we’ll soon see, it’s only once you’ve identified and understood your resentment that you can address it and start practicing gratitude. And every step you take toward gratitude will take you one step further from resentment. 

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    What is Untangling You about?

    Untangling You (2021) is a guide to attaining gratitude by way of its conceptual opposite, resentment. Drawing on research, anecdotes, and practical insights, it explores how moving from resentment to gratitude will help you mend relationships and lead a happier, healthier life.

    Who should read Untangling You?

    • Leaders looking to boost their staff’s morale and well-being
    • Parents and teachers seeking better ways to approach conflicts with children
    • Anyone who’d like to stop harboring grudges and start repairing interpersonal bridges

    About the Author

    Dr. Kerry Howells is an author, educator, and thought leader who has researched, taught, and practiced gratitude for over two decades. She has discussed gratitude’s powerful role in creating flourishing relationships, a thriving workplace, and a more harmonious world at international TEDx talks and the United Nations among others.

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