What is gratitude?
When we look at the dictionary definition, gratitude… This is in the dictionary… “a feeling of being thankful to somebody for doing something” So, it is a feeling; that feeling is a result. You can not just feel gratitude; what needs to happen is, somebody needs to do something for you and you need to witness and be aware of it. When you are aware of it, then that feeling comes anyways and then you say thank you. When we say thank you to someone, normally, it should be the outcome of our feelings, and these feelings come out of… recognizing that somebody has done something for us.
Two ways to See
Now, when we look at our selves, there are two ways to look at creation; and constantly every moment, we are created, we actually make our choice… we select one of these two ways. Our choice is to either look at everything as if they bear meaning of another, or see things as they bear meaning in themselves.
In other words, we make this conscious decision every time, and this conscious decision in fact is what determines our magnitude of our gratitude. If we just recognize or see the things around us, or the moments that we live, as having just meaning in themselves/by themselves; then we don’t have anything or anyone to feel gratitude towards.
Let’s give an example…
If we give an example, for instance, let’s say a man gives his wife a bouquet of flowers or a rose. The wife can see the gesture in one of two ways:
A. wow! This thing that I received (which is the flower) bears the meaning of another. It bears the meaning of love from the husband to his wife through the flower.
B. The flower just bears meaning within its self, which means “Oh, O.K…. very nice flower, I’ll just put it somewhere…” So as if to say that there is nobody who gave it, and that there is no meaning in it… Its meaning is contained within its self, basically.
Another example that we can give is: Let’s say that your very close friends are inviting you for a surprise BBQ party. They know that you like BBQ and in that surprise party they’re showing there love for you through the BBQ. So, you’re saying things like: Wow! You didn’t have to do this for me, I am very grateful for you.. This is because you realize that they are showing their friendship to you through the BBQ. Therefore, the BBQ bears meaning of another. That meaning is the meaning of someone that is showing their love through the BBQ party.
Whereas, you could just go to a restaurant; and you purchase the grilled steak for $10, and then you just eat it. Now, there’s a big difference between the two. You are still eating the same thing, but in one, what we are eating contains a meaning; a meaning that our hearts are filled with. In the other example, you are just interested in the material perspective of it; there’s a big difference in the two.
The way we approach things, whether they have meaning within themselves or convey meaning in another, actually changes the whole picture in front of me. People are inviting you, they’re showing their love towards you and then you say “I didn’t like this steak”. There isn’t even a thank you; because you feel the meaning in it, it’s just by its self.
Do I see the provider’s hand in the provisions?
These are just two examples, but when we think of our lives and our relationship with our Creator, our Sustainer… Where is our Sustainer in our minds and hearts? Do we see that whatever he creates (and he creates everything…) that these things that we see in front of us bear the meaning of another? They are there to show us that God is giving his gifts to us. Do we see all of these things that we are given, as created, furnished, and prepared specifically by someone, the Sustainer?
In other words, if we say “How beautiful this is made”, “How beautifully the Sustainer has made it… Thank you, Thank you…” So when you see something, you see that it is actually coming from someone. You then might say “How beautiful it is made, how beautiful its is… Thank you, Thank you” This is because you recognize that it is coming from someone.
If you recognize that something only has meaning unto its self; then it seem as if they are by themselves. “how beautiful it is…” and that’s it… So, you go outside into nature and you see flowers Oh! Beautiful! Very beautiful! But, who put it there for you? Who put it there? Where is that feeling coming that is inside of you? oh, no… it’s just beautiful, and that’s it…
How do we perceive the creation? How do you perceive our surroundings? Ourselves? And this choice makes all the difference.
Is what we have, what we own, who we are given to us? Or is it just as it is… I don’t have to think about it… If I recognize that it is given, then the magnitude of what is given to me increases the magnitude of my gratitude.
Peace and blessings,