How can gratitude be a burden? Aren’t there spiritual benefits to gratitude? Isn’t it important to “Count Our Blessings Daily”? And being appreciative an important key to happiness? Having an “Attitude of Gratitude” a vital part to having the “Habit of Happiness”? Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes!
BUT just like fire can warm the hearth or burn the house down, gratitude can be misused or twisted into something it is not. In varying degrees of dysfunction or inappropriateness, gratitude can be corrupted by
One should never feel guilt for the blessings one receives in life. Everyone living in the western world won the birth lottery with relatively high levels of safety from violence and access to medical care and education and social safety nets. Not saying it’s perfect, just saying that I’m glad I wasn’t born in North Korea or a lot of other places. Yes, I worked very, very hard to get where I am today AND I am also very, very aware that I was born in a land and a culture that was fertile ground, that provided the infrastructure, physical and social, for my entrepreneurial talents to flourish. Am I appreciative? YES! Do I feel an ethical duty to give back, to pay it forward? YES! Do I feel guilty? NO! Feeling guilty drains your energy and does not make the world a better place, giving back and paying forward does.
True gifts are given fully and freely without expectation of anything in return. When you help someone and expect/demand gratitude in return, it is not truly a gift, it is a loan. Be good to others for the sake of goodness; avoid inserting the concepts of conditions or debt. It should not be about who has the money or the power, refrain from all hints of moral superiority. There are subtleties: The Good Book says “the wise farmer does not cast his seed upon rocky ground.” We should expend our energies where they do the most good and genuine gratitude, freely expressed, is important feedback.
Even when help is freely given, some folks feel resentment. Perhaps they feel it puts them in a “one down” position or imposes unwanted or burdensome obligations even if only from their point of view or value system.
“(C)onsistently grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving, and less likely to be depressed, anxious, or lonely. And it’s not that people are only grateful because they are happier, either; gratitude has proven to be a significant cause of positive outcomes.” – Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage: Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success & Performance at Work
As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier