Affecting & Leveraging Gratitude


(Photo by Debby Hudson)

Robert Emmons in “Gratitude Works” says that the biggest OBSTACLE TO GRATITUDE is a sense of ENTITLEMENT—the belief that the world owes you something. And, because you are entitled to all the awesome things in your life and “deserve” it all, there’s no reason for you to feel grateful.

He wisely proposes that the remedy to entitlement is HUMILITY.

As Emmons tells us: “The more I contemplate the requirements for cultivating gratitude, the more I am convinced of the necessity of humility. In gratitude and humility we turn to realities outside of ourselves. We become aware of our limitations and our need to rely on others. In gratitude and humility, we acknowledge the myth of self-sufficiency. We look upward and outward to the sources that sustain us. Becoming aware of realities greater than ourselves shields us from the illusion of being self-made, being here on this planet by right—expecting everything and owing nothing. The humble person says that life is a gift to be grateful for, not a right to be claimed. Humility ushers in a grateful response.”

Emmons continues, “Research has shown that people who are ungrateful tend to have a sense of excessive self-importance, arrogance, vanity, and a high need for admiration and approval. At the more pathological end of the scale are narcissists, people who are profoundly self-absorbed and lack the empathy needed for entering deep, satisfying, mutually enhancing interpersonal relationships. At the more ordinary end of things are people who just feel entitled—to good grades, exemption from having to follow the rules, and special treatment of all kinds. The entitlement attitude says, ‘life owes me something’ or ‘people owe me something’ or ‘I deserve this.’ In all its manifestations, a preoccupation with the self can cause us to forget our benefits and our benefactors or to feel that we are owed things from others and therefore have no reason to feel thankful.”

Truly the idea of the self-made person” is a reflection of a genuine lack of awareness combined together with narcissism and egotism. Add in the effects of cultural and genetic heritage with special opportunities such as time and place of birth and there is no basis for self-made anything.

We can take the amazing people and goodness in our lives FOR GRANTED with arrogance or AS GRANTED with a sense of humble gratitude.

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