A Short Story
Recently James saw a beautiful sunset, but didn’t pay attention. Alicia thought the fall leaves were lovely, but said nothing. Michael at 70 took his excellent health for granted. Mary knew her friend Jane needed help, but didn’t lend a hand. Even though Jane gave her a ride home a few days ago.
It’s reasonable to think that James, Alicia, Michael, and Mary do not appreciate their good fortune. But only Mary behaved ungratefully. She received help from a friend, but didn’t repay the favor when she had the chance. If that is typical, her friends probably think she is an ungrateful. But no one will think that James, Alicia, and Michael are ungrateful, just because they ignore beautiful sunsets, fall leaves, or good health.
Gratitude journals are all rage these days. We’re asked to take note of good health, pretty sights, and kindnesses to others. And I think it’s good to be appreciative of all that life has to offer. But the kind, thoughtful, and helpful actions of others are special, and much more than just appreciation. If you do something nice or helpful to me, given the opportunity, shouldn’t I help you too? Not just say thank you. That’s the essence of gratitude, and how it is different from simple appreciation.
What’s So Nice About Gratitude
Gratitude builds and strengthens connections between people ! You do something nice for me, and I respond by helping you. Not in some “tit for tat” way, but because I genuinely want to. As a result, you feel good about me, and in the future when I need help , you probably offer it. What a lovely upward spiral of positive connections.
It’s good to appreciate all the good things that happen to us. The beautiful sights and the good fortune that comes our way. But it’s even better to be truly grateful. And to express gratitude not just in words but in deeds, and to enjoy improving someone else’s life.
And that, I think, is the essence of gratitude. Do you agree?