Today, we are talking about gratitude, why it’s crucial, and how to cultivate it.
Table of Contents
- What Is Gratitude?
- Why Is Gratitude Important?
- Avoid Guilt and Manipulation of Your Gratitude
- How Do You Practice Gratitude?
- Conclusion – Increase Your Gratitude To Thrive
What Is Gratitude?
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
Gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Firstly, gratitude is a mindset. You’re too thankful for greed or pettiness. Secondly, gratitude is an action. You show thanks for others, avoid complaining about minor issues, and express patience during difficulties.
Why Is Gratitude Important?
Firstly, gratitude has proven positive physical, psychological, and emotional effects. Expressing gratitude strengthens your positive emotions, cuts through the emotional drain of whining, and helps you deal with adversity.
Secondly, arrogant individuals invest time, energy, and money into admiring themselves. Gratitude humbles you, reduces your arrogance, and redirects your resources to self-improvement and communal growth.
Thirdly, gratitude helps you develop a baseline to evaluate the severity and uniqueness of your suffering. For example, working for a living can be difficult. However, if you remain grateful, you’ll realize two things. One, all men throughout all time have and will always have to work to live. Two, we work at easier, safer jobs to earn more comforts compared to our ancestors who did back-breaking work from dusk to dawn just to cover their bare necessities.
With gratitude, you can understand your suffering, count your blessings, and seek to resolve any struggles with a humbled mind.
Gratitude Helps You Protect What You Have
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus
Lastly, grateful individuals protect what they are thankful for.
For example, religion, free speech, and other Western ideals are responsible for building the current society we have. Albeit imperfect, these institutions were developed over hundreds of years through blood, sweat, and pain. When we are grateful for the actions of our ancestors, we are more likely to protect these institutions. Or, at the very least, not casually dismiss them through bad faith arguments, riots, and cancel culture.
Ungrateful people are petty, arrogant, and entitled. They take for granted their comforts such as the positive people in their lives to the food they eat and the freedoms they enjoy. Weak individuals do not maintain what they mindlessly consume. Thus, ungrateful people readily ignore the importance of protecting what others have provided.
When you are grateful, you will enjoy gifts and pass them on to others.
Avoid Guilt and Manipulation of Your Gratitude
“Altruism holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only moral justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty. The political expression of altruism is collectivism or statism, which holds that man’s life and work belong to the state – to society, to the group, the gang, the race, the nation – and that the state may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.” – Ayn Rand
You must understand the nuances of gratitude to avoid the altruism of the elites, masses, and ruling classes.
Firstly, gratitude does not mean you value yourself less. You should have pride in your accomplishments because you are the actor in improving your life. No one else can learn skills, develop virtue, or shoulder your burdens for you. They can support you, but they cannot walk the path in your place. Thus, remain grateful for their cheers and proud of your efforts.
Secondly, you are not indebted to everyone for everything. An indebted mindset creates guilt in individuals. Collectivists use this guilt to steal your time, energy, and money. Avoid falling for these manipulations by applying reason.
For example, those who came before us built our infrastructure. Sadly, the past developed this infrastructure by using unsustainable debt. You can express gratitude for the infrastructure while criticizing this shortsightedness. Thus, you should reject arguments stating you repeat the foolish actions of the past even if you benefit from those actions.
We appreciate our gifts. But, gratitude should strengthen us to improve, not leave us blind to the fault of those we are thanking.
How do you practice gratitude?
- Never forget the default state of man – Life, in its default stage, is brutish, short, and miserable. Everything you have, from clean water to smartphones, is a blessing. Remember, comfort is an aberration, not a guarantee. Thus, remain grateful for this technological, equitable, and peaceful world you did not build.
- Imagine dying right now – If you were to die now or very soon, how ashamed are you of your selfishness, short-sightedness, and lack of gratitude? Reflect on your death, and you will cherish every breath.
- Remove yourself from the greedy and selfish – Collectivists believe everything should be free. They are entitled, and their entitlement costs people their lives. If you want to remain grateful, then remove yourself from the greedy.
- Practice voluntary suffering – When you learn to live with less, you’re going to appreciate everything. For example, if you routinely take cold showers, then you will love warm, running water. Fasting is another way to practice voluntary suffering. Finding great and small ways to practice pain will improve your mindset.
- Engage in the suffering of others – Reading about wars, famines, and other horrors can remind you of the relative stability and peace of your day-to-day. Surely a drive in traffic is preferable to occupation by enemy soldiers?
Increase Your Gratitude, and You’ll Thrive
Recently, I’ve planted vegetables in my garden. Within this hobby, I am grateful for many things.
Firstly, I have the leisure time to plant a garden because of time-saving devices, technological improvements, and social advancement. Secondly, the market provides my supply of food. I garden for fun, not out of necessity.
Lastly, I live in a relatively stable society. I worry about my crops dying. I’m not stressed about armed bandits or fighter jets roaring overhead.
As an individual, I’ve intelligently applied my gifts. Being frugal, I invested my money in growing food instead of buying knick-knacks. I work hard, so I have more time to garden. I use my excess time on productive pursuits, and so on.
I am proud of my wise decisions. Yet, I am grateful for everything I have access to. I can only hope I maintain and appreciate my gifts.
“God judges men by their hearts, not by the color of their skins.” – Harriet Jacobs
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Up from Slavery, and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – These three books keep the horrors of slavery and racism fresh in my mind. Thus, I am appreciative of the society’s immense progress and my duty to prevent regression towards tribalism.
- Finding True Happiness – True happiness requires virtue, a rejection of comfort, and generosity. Finding True Happiness offers a road map to becoming a stronger, more grateful individual.
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – There is power in reduction. Mark Manson explains how reducing your cares and increasing your gratitude can improve your life.
- What are you grateful for? How would your life be if you didn’t have these people and items in your life?
- What’s something you want? Why are you chasing this thing or person?
- What are you proud of? What great things have you done recently? Who helped you achieved your impressive goals?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.