Grateful? Are We Really?
(Read in :03)“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” ~ Cicero
Would you be willing to comment on a topic for me? I’d sure be grateful for your input. I have an important event coming up and I’m preparing to speak there for about 30 minutes.
Each time I write a new post I think about a topic for a day or two, deciding what I’ll talk about, hoping it will be of interest. Once I’ve decided, I spend a few (or sometimes several) hours researching, writing, finding the right photo and quotes, deleting, rewriting, and fidgeting before I hit “publish.” Every single time, I stew and wonder whether or not you’ll find some useful nugget worth 3 minutes of your time.
The subject is gratitude
Gratefulness has been a topic of discussion since man began to ponder life and philosophize. Ancient philosophers had been discussing gratitude for hundreds of years before Cicero (the guy in the first quote) came along. The Bible is full of exhortations to be thankful in all things, even in when troubles come along.
Fast forward a couple of thousand years. The modern science of positive psychology touts all kinds of benefits from practicing gratitude. While looking for supporting material I found virtual laundry lists of physical and emotional advantages of living with a thankful mindset. Improvements include lower blood pressure, more friends, a longer life and even a more successful career. Check out this article which names almost as many benefits as Baskin-Robbins has ice cream flavors.
Albert E. must have given the subject a lot of thought, too.
“A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.”~Albert Einstein
Is it possible we aren’t really grateful?
Reading about the good things that come from a spirit of gratitude comes as no surprise. The practice of noticing and appreciating our blessings in life is a worthy value and should be embraced. However, an article from The New York Times entitled The Selfish Side of Gratitude did surprise and shock me. Really? I guess I shouldn’t be, controversy has always sold newspapers.
The author, Barbara Ehrenreich, suggests we’ve become self-centered about it. She accuses us of a greater concern for how it benefits us than how it helps the people who provide things we should appreciate. She states we practice a sort of fake gratitude of sending “grateful thoughts” and “journaling gratitude” with no real, personal interaction and hints that it’s a hollow and selfish way to make ourselves feel better.
So what do you think? Have we become that insensitive and removed from true thankfulness? What do you have to say about the way Ehrenreich describes us? (I hope she’s wrong.) Your opinions matter and your suggestions will help me deliver a more effective and helpful presentation. I hope you’ll comment. Thank you, I’m truly grateful for you!
“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