To cultivate and express gratitude seems a natural human response. A Thank you or expressing appreciation does not take much and is an inherent quality within human beings. But then, why is gratitude not a part of our daily lives? Possibly the main reason is that present living or lifestyle is at a fast pace and with its many distractions makes forgetting the importance of gratitude easier.
Gratitude is not an Attitude
What Is Gratitude?
Gratitude is recognizing the bonus value for favorable things or positive life experiences for which we did not actively work towards or ask for. A dictionary definition would be ‘gifts outweighing exchange’. The word ‘gratitude’ has its roots in Latin, grata or gratia.
Is Gratitude an attitude? Being Grateful means…
Many authors and life coaches have described gratitude as a natural feeling that surfaces from within. Most others describe being grateful or ungrateful as a choice. And as a choice, gratitude is an attitude or disposition and is more than an emotional response.
Sadhguru explains that gratitude means being receptive to life…
Most people cannot receive something gracefully. Social ethics have taught us that giving is important, but taking is not important. Yes, taking is not important — taking is ugly — but receiving is very important; it takes a certain amount of gracefulness, a certain amount of humility. Just look at any aspect of your life; everything that is worthwhile you are actually receiving. For example, just see how many people and things were involved in the clothes that you are wearing right now — from the person who planted the cottonseed to the millions of organisms that were involved in making the plant grow; from the people that prepared the cotton — from ginning to weaving to spinning — to the clothing maker, agent, distributor and seller. Even the food that you eat, just for it to get into your system, how many different lives have participated in making this happen?
If you are aware of this and if you receive gracefully, you will be overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude is not an attitude; it is something that flows out of you. If it is just a cultivated attitude, it is not of much significance. People have always told you that the magic words are “thank you,” but gratitude is not cultivated; it happens when you are overwhelmed by something or somebody.
Suppose you were dying of hunger and somebody gave you a piece of bread, now tears of gratitude will come to you. If they had given you that same piece of bread at any other moment, even if they had given you an entire loaf, it wouldn’t have meant anything to you. But at that moment of hunger, you would look at the person giving you the piece of bread with enormous gratitude because you are overwhelmed by the experience. Gratitude need not necessarily find expression in the form of eloquence, it could be just a look, a touch, a teardrop.
Everything in existence is somehow collaborating to keep you alive and well right now. From your breath, to the food that you eat, to the sun rising and setting. If you are able to look through just one chain of events, you could not help but be filled with gratitude for all the people and things involved.
So if you see the way life is happening, can you not help but be grateful? Only if you are living blatantly, thinking you are the king of this planet, will you miss out on everything, you will miss out on the whole process of life. Otherwise, everything will overwhelm you. And if you are overwhelmed with gratitude, you are in an extremely good state of receptivity.
The whole process of yoga is to make you receptive in deeper and deeper ways — ways that are not in your current experience of life; that is the only goal. Being overwhelmed with gratitude is a very beautiful way to be receptive. It can open people up in certain ways. The hardest part of working with people on the spiritual path is making them receptive. If they worked on their own ability to receive, then giving them what is needed would be very simple. If one is hungry, it is not difficult to make him eat. But to make him hungry, that is a hard job.
The very process of life is a constant phenomenon of receiving. You have nothing of your own to give; receiving is all you can do. Receive gracefully and share; that’s all there is.
“The food that you eat is life. It is other forms of life that we are eating – the other forms of lives are giving up their life to sustain our life. If we can eat with enormous gratitude for all the living things which give up their life to sustain our lives, then the food will behave in a very different way within you.” – Sadhguru
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