The phrase me struck me a few days ago. Gratitude is an attitude, it says. As an attitude we develop it, we pour our time and energy to exercise it. It doesn’t come easy. Making it a part of our makeup is a constant battle and a long-term commitment.
Feeling and being grateful has this thin borderline of being thankful and annoyingly boastful. We can say that we’re being grateful for being this, for having that, for not experiencing this, for getting through that. But in saying so, we have another party to be our benchmark.
For example, it’s not difficult to say that we’re grateful for not having to have a career, when our neighbor is struggling with working from home and childcare without help during this pandemic. It’s not difficult to say that we’re grateful for having kids, when we’re reminded of our childless best friend.
It’s not difficult to say that we’re grateful for landing safely after a heavy turbulence up in the air, when an airplane accident happened just yesterday in a nearby city. It’s not difficult to say that we’re grateful for getting through baby blues, when we know an ex co-worker who had such a hard time that she wanted to take her own life.
If gratitude is supposed to be an attitude, can’t it be independently perceived as our personal attribute without seeking for confirmation from someone else? Can’t we just be grateful not because what we have or do excels in comparison to others?
This question has been weighing on my mind for some time. Especially during a difficult time like this.
None of my family members has been infected by the virus. A cousin was suspected a month ago, but it has been proven twice that she was negative. I have no idea how it feels to be separated and to lose a loved one due to this disease. I can only imagine how hard it must be. How inhumane and frustrating it is, not being able to share someone’s final moment because of the barriers built in the name of safety for all.
So, it annoys me, for a reason I cannot fathom, when and if I accidentally hear someone saying that he is grateful for not contracting the virus, unlike other people he knows. And that he is being blessed.
If your being healthy is a blessing, is other being sick a curse? Do you think that this proves that God favors you more than He favors the others?
The same question was asked by a friend of mine a few years ago, “If you see having no problem with fertility as a blessing, is my being childless a curse?”
When I couldn’t provide her with an adequate answer, she continued, “Then don’t tell me that you’re blessed by having children and I’m not.”
I told her that it was just a slip of tongue; I didn’t mean to patronize her. It honestly wasn’t my intention. To which she replied, “But you implied that.”
The conversation still lingers in my mind after all these years, that whenever I want to say that I’m being grateful, I don’t want to think about other people. I don’t want to think about what they do, or have, or experience. I want to see my gratitude solely as mine, not being compared to other people’s states.
I want my gratitude to be my attitude. An attitude which appreciates everything I have received even though I never deserve them. An attitude which works hard to care for everything that has been put under my wings, to multiply the talent given to me, and to be responsible for every result from my hand.
That’s how I want my gratitude to become my attitude. I am grateful not because of; I am grateful despite of.