I did not intend to write a post here today. But the universe works in mysterious ways, and here I am.
I wrote a tongue-in-cheek bit on my other blog (which is kind of devoted to tongue-in-cheek) called Redefining “Gratitude”. Unfortunately it is far from deep and thought provoking as the title might imply. Little did I know that I actually have developed a slight reputation for thought-provoking posts (though those attempts usually end up on this blog). One of my blogging acquaintances (@chaoskay) who has occasionally shown some appreciation for my posts here saw the title on Twitter, and kindly assuming it was a worthy post to read, retweeted it. Without actually reading it. On top of that, whether because of her retweet or again because of my irreverent choice of titles, I am now being followed by Gratitude Blogger (@GratitudeBlogs).
And also a bit of obligation.
I was being silly with my other post, but now I feel that I need to shift gears back to thoughtful. Simply because two people gave me an unexpected and not necessarily deserved gift for no other reason than they thought my words MIGHT be worth sharing. They gave me the gift of respect. It is one of those gifts that only has true meaning if it is returned in kind.
So here I am, plan or no, pondering on what exactly gratitude DOES mean.
The basic definition is “a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for gifts or favors” (from here).
Simple right? But my out-of-the-box thinking mind immediately latches on to this concept and thinks: hmmm. Something slightly off here.
“One could possibly be wrong with this definition?” You may think. “What is wrong with showing appreciation or thanks for gifts or favors?”
That is just it. There is another, even simpler, form of the definition: “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful”. There is a subtle difference between these two definitions, but one that has a profound meaning in the language of the soul. Our world has become so materially focused, that the usual connotation of feeling gratitude is the first one I mentioned. We always express the need to be thankful FOR something. Usually because something was given to or done for us.
It dawned on me that in some ways this actually cheapens the whole concept of gratitude. It makes it seem as if it is a form of currency. Do something nice for me and I will repay you with gratitude. And if I do something nice for you I expect the same in return.
So I put it to you that maybe we DO need to redefine gratitude a little. Just like we should relearn giving just for the sake of giving, maybe we to need to relearn gratitude for the sake of gratitude. Stop thinking “What do I have to be grateful for?” and simply be grateful. I know this may be a difficult concept to grasp, but maybe we need to take the mind out of the picture. If we can simply understand and feel gratitude in the very center of our being, our view of the world might truly be different indeed.