This time of year people everywhere are counting their blessings and are encouraged to have gratitude. But what is gratitude? Merriam Webster’s Dictionary describes it as thankfulness. Why do we need to discuss being thankful or grateful? First of all, think about it, you ever run into a thankless person? How did that make you feel? Right. This is the person that cuts in line, doesn’t say anything when you hold the door open, steps across your path with pursed lips, and sends out her wedding invitations and so happens to forget to send a stinking note for that pricey whatcha-mabobbit that you bought. These are simple things but yet they tell something about a person if such actions are done repeatedly. This person is selfish. And on top of that they may be miserable.
Consider, a person that is thankless is called an ingrate. The listed synonyms for ingrate are ungrateful wretch and persona non grata. Most have a general view of what these two words mean, but let’s dig deeper. An ungrateful wretch is defined as ‘a miserable person who is profoundly unhappy or in great misfortune.’ Another definition goes further and says ‘a base, despicable or vile person!’ Persona non grata is defined as ‘a person who for some reason is not wanted or welcomed.’ Wow. That’s deep.
An ingrate is a miserable unwanted person. This is the person that rains on the parade by not showing his or her truest and deepest of feelings. They might have a house – so what? Or she might have a loving husband and kids – does she care? Or I might have a reasonable measure of health – am I glad?
Cultivation of gratefulness starts with appreciating the so-called small things like the ones mentioned previously. One can do this by meditating on the good things in their lives. I’ve heard some busy people say that they rise early (before anyone else gets up) and take at least five or ten minutes to meditate everyday. Is it still dark and stars are out? Then a grateful person would give thanks for this gift. Did your baby girl kiss you and tell you that she loved you the night before? Then smile and warmly reflect on that.
Many people tend toward the negative. We need to break out of bad habits and break into new ones. Keep meditating on a daily basis. The natural progression from gratitude is peace and deep joy.
Let’s not forget to actively express thankfulness either. This can be done by simply saying thank you or writing a handwritten note of appreciation. Life is not about grand displays, but many small ones. Because we are living in a not so perfect world, we will continue to interact with ingrates. This should not make us adopt their attitude. Remember what an ingrate is? We really don’t want to get stuck in that miserable place.
Everyone has felt that they have been that ‘persona non grata’ (unwanted person) at one time or another. In this disordered life we have, negative influences can get the best of us at times. When that happens, be careful. That’s your gratitude slipping away. Stop. Meditate once again on the good in life. It can be done. We can all feel more grateful with practice, practice and more practice. Write it down, say it to strangers, say a prayer, express it to loved ones, but continue on.
Remember – we owe it to ourselves to be better than we are.