Wait, are we supposed to be grateful for stuff ALL november?

Buddha_gratitudeFirst, of all, today is my birthday! Wooooo. I am twenty-eight. I am particularly lucky in that lots of crazy life-changing moments have actually happened ON my birthday (that’s what happens when you throw a good birthday party). So this is also a commemoration of those =]

Second of all, I’ve been noticing that there are lots of these Facebook posts about stuff that you’re grateful for. Seems a bit premature to me. An entire month of gratitude? I don’t know if I could manage that. And I won’t even try.

Gratitude is a weird thing to perform. It makes you seem very good and very humble, but it’s actually a way of boasting. Your grateful for all the good things in your life (look at all these good things!) Being grateful for things also feels really good. Like really good. And it imposes absolutely no cost on you. You don’t need to do anything in order to feel grateful. You just need to sit around and feel it. It’s like feeling superior to people (which is a feeling that gratitude somewhat resembles). This makes me very suspicious of gratitude. It’s not at all one of the higher emotions. Gratitude is, instead, both very simple and also somewhat masturbatory. It does not produce anything. And you do it in order to feel good.

But when people are publicly grateful, it is, somehow, not annoying.

What’s much more annoying is when people don’t acknowledge their own good fortune. When people dismiss their own accomplishments, their blessings, their privileges-of-birth, it just drives everyone else crazy.

Perhaps what makes gratitude forgivable is that it’s driven by a sense of unworthiness. When you total up your blessings, you realize that they’ve come to you independent of anything you’ve done. Gratitude acknowledges the randomness of the world and the interrelationships between people and the inadequacy of any one human being.

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  1. Amrita De

    happy birthday 🙂 I have been lurking around this place for quite some time now. and i must say, i really look forward to your insights.
    time for me to de-lurk. i am particularly intrigued by your choice of picture- that of the Buddha and the lotus flower. Was it intentional? or is it just something that you chose at random? I practice Buddhism myself. Of course, I am asking this out of sheer curiosity.

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      Thanks! I select all my pictures by going to Google Image search and searching for a term related to the post. In this case, the term was “gratitude,” and that Buddha was one of the less saccharine images that came up.