November 23, 2009
As we approach Thanksgiving, let’s reflect on the value of gratitude.
The New York Times just published a review of Margaret Visser’s new book entitled: “The Gift of Thanks-The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude.” She believes that gratitude is a moral emotion. For her it is not so much about the gift received but about the receiver’s “whole life, her character, up-bringing, maturity experience, relationships with others and also her ideals, including her idea of the sort of person she is or would like to be.”
Gratitude leads to generosity. America is a generous nation. Institutions and individuals give more to others than any other country in the world. The concept of “giving back” is born out of the sense of gratitude. One may argue that there are fiscal incentives that encourage giving. But the very fact that those incentives were included in the tax code indicates that the legislators’ intent was to encourage giving.
Gratitude in the workplace can increase job satisfaction and foster loyalty, which in turn can reduce turnover and thus increase productivity and profitability.
One could ask how can we be grateful when facing so many personal and national problems, particularly at this time. It might be helpful to put our problems into a global perspective. Someone said that more than half of the people in this world would love to have……. our problems. That is very true.
We also take too much for granted. It is unfortunate that we often need to have something taken away from us to realized how blessed we were prior to loosing it. Many years ago, I fell extremely ill and the doctors in the ICU in Lausanne, Switzerland did not think I would make it. I too thought that this was most likely the end my life on this earth. I discovered that it is possible to die with regrets. I had one regret: I realized that I had passed through life without really appreciating nature, the wind, sunshine, the rain, the forest and flowers. I wished I would be given a second chance, even if for just one day. Well, I was given many more than one day. That was 38 years ago! I have been, ever since, much more appreciative of nature and grateful for life.
Jean Baptiste Massieu, the French politician during the French Revolution once said:
“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”