Some Important Distinctions …


Gratitude - Henry Van DykeI have always liked this quotation, because it makes a clear and important distinction between internal emotions, expressions of those emotions, and actions to reinforce the emotions and words.

In other words, we feel good, we talk about why, we act to create that feeling in others …

I have never understood the compulsion some feel to wax eloquently about how grateful they are to have what they have, and yet do not act truly grateful for that state of affairs.

Gratitude is not about perfection or even “better than most” …

Gratitude is an internal awareness that one has things in their life that are good.    “Good” is very subjective, and your good thing might be my non-negotiable no-can-do, which is always a good thing of which to remain mindful.

However, some things, such as safety, affiliation, love, health, food and drink, shelter, and some measure of dignity are probably as close to universal values as we come.

When we consider our life and what we have, we ought not think in terms of measuring against the maximum “Could Have“, but rather consider whether a particular thing, person, or sensation makes our life more pleasant, more enjoyable, more meaningful.

Gratitude is about perspective and attitude …

I am not rich or even well off by some contemporary standards, but I have more than most on the planet in terms of material possessions, security and safety, and environment.

As I celebrate what I have, I try to keep firmly in mind that others do not have what I have.   The obvious follow-up thought to me upon that realization is to consider how to make this a different world, so others can have what I have.

… and no, I am not talking about a utopian ideal of everyone having exactly the same.   I AM thinking about everyone having more of what is positive in life, even if that means I have a little less.

Gratitude left unspoken might be the final act of selfishness …

This occurs when I have things to celebrate, but which I keep to myself.  Now, a thin line exists between sharing my thankfulness openly and bragging just a bit about what I got that you don’t got.   I need to constantly guard against sharing to put myself in a superior position … sort of loses the point of being grateful. 

Gratitude is not boastful, but rather humble, with recognition that much of what we celebrate can be attributed to an incident of birth, genetics, family history, someone else’s actions or decisions, and just plain luck.  Quite possibly, those things we are most thankful for came to us  through no discernible or meaningful action on our part.

For example, my marriage, which I consider a great blessing, had a great deal of luck involved in the back story, and my contributions were honestly less than stellar.  I am just an incredibly lucky person …

So on this holiday weekend, take some time to quietly consider what you are truly thankful for in your life and then walk it back a bit, by reflecting on how you came to have these blessings.  Ask yourself these questions:

How did I become so blessed?

Who do I need to thank for my blessings?

What can I do to create blessings in other’s lives?

Feeling rather content and satisfied, all in all, in the wet and cold Heartland ….

John

 

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