On An Attitude of Gratitude

​All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 9.6

From the onset, the ideas of gratitude comes from a place of appreciation and gladness in the everyday endeavour from the big to the small acts of goodness toward us. Gratitude being itself not an emotion but value and virtue is more important in daily living then most may think. 

From the rituals of religion to the labs of academic thought, to be grateful isnt only pragmatic but, is an underlining root of human mature and mental serenity. Cicero believed that gratitude is a precursor for all of the other virtues, including happiness, kindness, reason and courage. Wealth, possessions, and good fortune are not necessary for happiness

Gratitude in its linguistic sense comes from the idea of being thankful, pleased and agreeable, but at its core has more to offer than just useful social, psychological and physical benefits. You hear a lot of talk about gratitude, but most of the time. Its hard to do and most seem adamant, but gratitude is at its essence is an active process of constant practice, willful attitude and purposeful self-reminder.

To have an attitude of gratitude comes from a place of revolt, maturity and appreciation toward life’s goodness as opposite to its ever present bad state. A stoic attitude of kindness, humility and proper response to a good state of affairs be it by divine, chance or probability of the reality of things.

It is a call to the human heart to affirm the goodness of others and a reminder that we are beyond ourselves. It is an unescapable fact,we are dependent on each other. 
To be grateful is dynamic, realistic, its a loving endeavour, the bridge to common courtesy, kind recognition and mutual kinship benefit to the solace of our minds and the people around us.

The attitude of gratitude stems from 2 stances, one must ask themselves, what it means to be a giver and what does it mean to be a receiver?. It goes without saying but pillar to these two positions is knowledge and clarity on the elements of what constitutes a grateful response is critical for developing an accurate account of what gratitude actually is.

THE GIVER 

No one is  truly obligated to give anything really. To give is just a gesture of goodwill. To give as McConnett states mostly deals with ideas of cost, sacrifice, risk and liability. So why give at all? Why go the distance with if in most cases, no real benefit at all?

We are givers if we do it out of love, love by heart but accompanied by attitude and deed. To be mature is to give more than you take out of life. We celebrate the present. We give because it is a good thing to do.

Gratitude is the truest approach to life. We did not create or fashion ourselves. We did not birth ourselves. Life is about giving, receiving, and repaying. We are receptive beings, dependent on the help of others, on their gifts and their kindness.

William Arthur Ward states that “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”We need to know how, who and when to give. The mature giver learns not to give for giving sake. But from an uncommon place of kinship with a right heart, motive and mind set.

It’s often thought that a reservation in giving is an attitude of selfishness but thats untrue. Unmindful giving is just as destructive as untamed egoism. To give well comes from the pillars of healthy self-Awareness with undying empathy.

Be a grateful giver is having in mind you are doing this because it is what you want to do, or because it is the right and or sound thing, responses of the receiver becomes unimportant. Accept that some people simply expect people to continue to just do things for them with no reciprocation or acknowledgement. 

Some people don’t know or are unable to show almost any emotion or emotionally stunted and I doubt if most intend to convey what they conveying,that is to show no gratitude. But then again, we don’t know people perfectly and its unhelpful to assume malice as a norm to said individuals.

You will meet people who may be completely self-absorbed to the point that they don’t even understand that other people are just as human as themselves. If you have it in your mind you are doing something because it is what you want to do, or because it is the right thing, their reactions become unimportant.

Be polite and respectful. No surprise, this can be hard to do, though. You have to constantly recheck your reactions and thoughts, Being the giver is as Seneca part of “living with the lot’ of life, living with the occasional resentment and not be possessed by it. Living above the pity thoughts, one needs to find a way to still be kind and gracious without building resentment and never giving out of some moral superiority.

It means we have to strip down our egos and be aware of this unhealthy sense of false entitlement or indebtedness because of our very act of goodwill. We can’t change people and should not be in our interest to forcedly teach anyone to show gratitude.  We should draw respectful intellectual and emotional lines.

Joseph B. Wirthlin put it like this, Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character.” We like to be around those who are grateful, Being a mature giver ultimately means you are motivated by an appreciation of people, possessions, the present moment, rituals, feeling of awe, social comparisons, existential concerns, and believing that behavior which expresses gratitude is good for us all, a badge of love and resilience.

THE RECEIVER

We all begin life dependent on others, and most of us end life dependent on others. The human condition is such that throughout life, not just at the beginning and end, we are profoundly dependent on other people. Bring a grateful receiver means not falling prey to Forgetfulness, apathy, pride and laziness  towards the acts of others. 

In truth, we will never  really have enough of what we want to pursue, only if we dare to relax our guard long enough to draw pleasure from what we have, an embrace of our gifts  and ultimately our mortality.

Dr. Robert Emmon and others heralds of gratitude advise us to taking time to count our blessings, displaying positive character traits, appreciate the quiet moments of nature and by keeping a daily gratitude journal where we express joy for all of the good things that happened to us.

As such they also suggest that we are wired to take things for granted. The garden variety of daily dissatisfaction, fears of life and complacency can make gratitude arbitrary. All these sadly cemented by unfair, unrealistic conscious or subconscious comparisons of our peers and the world around us.

Novelty and gratitude wear off quickly. To be more grateful or its practice stands in deep conflict with a central drive in human nature: ambition and desire, the pillars of the human ego. Human beings are not just beguiled by the occasional reminder to be or see no reason at all to be grateful. 

We use what makes us happy as the default, the baseline from which things are judged. We start to feel entitled to have things the way they are, instead of in most cases due to luck or the efforts of others. So practicing gratefulness is a great art and we would be less likely to take life for granted.

 Our lives get transformed, Seneca stressed that time is a fleeting and slippery possession. Every moment of every day we die. This is completely outside of our control. It makes sense to value our time and use it well. This lies at the heart of what it means to be a good receiver.

As such, the receiver is at most content with how things already are. The attitude may sound like a kind act of pretension but with a world full of constant indifference and usurp, to be grateful is a humble acknowledgement and one of life’s noble insurrections.

We may not get all that we want or be eternally happy and fulfilled. Bad stuff may be the talk of the day but, we don’t need to become slaves to our lot and fear- big or small, we fight light with darkness. 

We need to remedy ourselves with the reality that more often than we should that we dont yet recognize the dissatisfaction that arises is our unrealistic frequency of attraction to things, this only is perpetual to the cycle of dissatisfaction, hatred and ungratefulness.

A mature receiver isn’t a stance to pull us away from our real ambitions, or to not be absorbed by the lights and glamour of the world, it just means that it doesnt let it get in the way of a better life. 

Camenisch (1981), suggest that just as forgiveness, the receiver may not feel a sincere need to say and express thanks but the act prompts developing grateful beliefs, feelings and other dispositions that they may not have at the time of thanking and in turn signals the giver to commitment to ridding negative thoughts and feelings that are bad if it had not been said. Which is a healthy characteristic of human relationships, sounds obvious but is extremely pivotal.

In the beginning, exerting an effort and attitude of gratitude in many cases need not be inconsistent with being grateful, just as exerting an effort of will to help a friend under similar circumstances would not make one a bad friend. Hence what’s truly at the center of gratitude isn’t feelings or acts but an attitude prompting them that makes its essence.

The very act of expressing the words “thank you” is the least yet best thing one may do and the giving of thank-you gifts or the doing of return-favors isnt and shouldnt be due to indebtness and in truth, must be done when possible as is a cardinal foundation of good and healthy relations.

The very act of expressing the words thank you despite, the depth of a relationships stands as a statue and a frequent reminder of humility and as an oasis to the monotonous hot ego expectations of the everyday giver.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Albert Schweitzer. The mature receiver exercising their perceptions and by reaching out to friends by celebrating their progress as we would our own and this requires that we first get over ourselves.

The attitude of gratitude as such means we recognize and accept  that there are already at this moment very good reasons ,even if its  minimal to be a little more satisfied with who we are, what we have become and what we have.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow…Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

Melody Beattie

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