It seems to me, the single most important trait to have… is gratitude. Be grateful for everything, for without gratitude one becomes bitter, angry, envious and hate filled. No matter how much someone has, how many amazing qualities, or their intelligence, without gratitude, anyone will be self destructive. Perhaps the single biggest factor creating our society’s toxicity is our ingratitude. To be grateful is to attract blessings while ingratitude draws burdens. Those who are grateful live longer, are happier, have less stress and stress related problems, making gratitude a self interested quality. We are not grateful for the benefit of whomever has done us a good turn, we are thankful for our own sake, it is the ability to recognize our own human frailty. Clearly then, to be grateful is a self interested act, one that makes us happier, better people…
Thankfulness allows us to count our blessings rather than our burdens. There is not one among us without burdens, or blessings. Even slaves have blessings, and just as importantly, the uber rich have burdens. To live in gratitude is to count blessings rather than burdens, to live in ingratitude is to count burdens, rather than blessings. We all do the math in our heads, counting our blessings, or our burdens. It is the nature of being human. We calculate the ratio, as we see it with our myopic vision, to decide if we should be happy or sad. Happiness though is a quality that exists outside our burdens or our blessings, it is subjective, not objective. To allow some algorithm to decide if we should be happy or sad, is giving away our innate power to be happy, and makes us powerless, which in and of itself is depressing.
Counting our burdens leads to anger, hate, envy and depression. If one dwells on his burdens, it matters not how few they are or how light they bare down, burdens are all that person sees. The calculation is all burden and no blessing. So to count burdens can only make us angry that we have them, hate those we think have none, envy those we imagine are better able to carry… all of which leads inevitably to depression. A deep depression that requires prescription drugs to lift. To those who count burdens, no amount of blessings will change their attitude. They will scoff at their blessings, good health, good friends, loving family, a modicum of prosperity, plenty to eat, life itself, heck, even winning the lottery will only lead to more depression, because it is not our burdens that make us angry, it is our dwelling on them that does.
Counting our blessings leads to love, fulfillment, happiness and humility. Rather than dwell on our burdens, we should make an effort to think only of our blessings and be thankful for them. If we look at the gifts God has given us we can only be grateful. That gratitude can only lead to happiness at our great good fortune, fulfillment because the more we count blessings the more we will find to count, thankfulness is humbling since to be grateful is to acknowledge our weaknesses as well as our strengths, and we are filled with love at a universe and God that has granted us so very much. To count blessings and be thankful for them then, is the path that will lead us to more blessings.
It is human nature to dwell on that which we do on to have, because we have been fooled into believing that is the way to eliminate burdens, and gain blessings. Yet the opposite is true. Counting burdens only results in more burdens because it is stultifying. Angry, bitter people filled with hate accumulate burdens like a stray dog does fleas. Meanwhile, counting blessings leads to more blessings, because thankfulness is attractive, it pulls in more of that which we are thankful for. Our lives are a reflection of our attitudes. To have a positive attitude draws positive things to us just as a negative attitude draws negative things to us.
To be thankful then is to be wise and the wise are thankful for everything. Gratitude is a self interested act. It creates in us all the good emotions and attitudes that lead to happiness, humility, fulfillment and love, while ingratitude, counting our burdens rather than our blessings, can only lead to the negative emotions like, anger, bitterness and envy. Why would anyone choose to be unhappy when happiness is as easy as choosing to count our blessings, no matter how few, and be grateful for them. In that way we accumulate blessings leading us to be even more grateful for them. A self sustaining loop that improves our lives at zero cost! So be wise, count your blessings and amass more blessings… or count your burdens and amass more of them, it is your choice and yours alone… please choose wisely.