"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

Burden of Gratitude

grateful

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

– Guilt
– Obligation
– Resentment

Guilt

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.

Obligation

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.

Resentment

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.

Closing Quote:

“(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

 

Memento Mori

Vanity, by Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674)

Memento mori is Latin for “remember that you have to die” or “remembering we will die”. It is used in reference to the practice of reflecting upon our mortality as an ongoing method of reminding ourselves of how meaningless earthly possessions are, how transitory our time is in this mortal vale.

Far from being a negative, “remembering we will die” is an admonishment to live life fully, to make the most of each and every present moment, to cherish those we love, to invest our time wisely.

Closing Quotes:

“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” – Etienne de Grellet, Quaker Missionary

“Life is short, God’s way of encouraging a bit of focus.” – Robert Brault

Ozymandias

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

“I met a traveller from an antique land, 
Who said— “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone 
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand, 
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, 
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, 
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, 
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; 
And on the pedestal, these words appear: 
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; 
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! 
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare 
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Wikipedia:

Memento mori (Latin: “remember that you have to die”)[2] is the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. It is related to the ars moriendi (“The Art of Dying”) and related literature. Memento mori has been an important part of ascetic disciplines as a means of perfecting the character by cultivating detachment and other virtues, and by turning the attention towards the immortality of the soul and the afterlife.[3]

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

Le génie commence les beaux ouvrages, mais le travail seul les achève

imagination and hard work

“Le génie commence les beaux ouvrages, mais le travail seul les achève” translates as “Genius begins beautiful works, but only labor finishes them.” Or as Edison put it, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”

All too often we overvalue splashy “new” ideas without fully understanding the grinding toil, the “blood, sweat, and tears”, necessary to bring the idea to full fruition. Many an entrepreneur, many a successful small businessperson has said some version of “If I had any idea how difficult it was going to be, the sacrifices required, I might not have had the courage (foolhardiness?) to start.”

Life is not a vending machine where we can insert a concept at the top and reach down and have a fully completed, working prototype pop out at the bottom. Success in any worthwhile venture requires that we learn the territory, lay the foundation, learn the skill set, master the craft. Aught else is wishful thinking, magical thinking. Those who wait for their ship to come in will always be surpassed by those who build their own ship.

Closing Quote:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.”*
– Albert Einstein

*This saying is often chopped off and quoted simplistically as “Imagination is more important than knowledge” which I never liked because I believed it licensed a certain laziness; implying that the hard work of study and learning to master an area of knowledge was unnecessary.  The full quote makes it clear that the value of imagination lies in the ability to use it to build upon, to go beyond what knowledge has revealed.

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

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