Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
Gratitude: The Stoic Superpower
The Roman philosopher Cicero claimed that gratitude was not only the most important virtue, but the parent of all others. There are endless quotes on gratitude from the great Stoics like Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca. Cicero’s assertion that it was the parent of all virtue was both intriguing and vexing at first. It has taken some amount of reflection to understand. But now, it makes total sense.
In my various Googlings on the topic, I came across an academic treatise in the British Psychological Society that really struck me. Here is a direct link to the paper, which I highly recommend.
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[Gratitude] acts as a moral barometer, drawing attention to help received; a moral motivator, encouraging a prosocial response to help; and as a moral reinforcer, where the expression of gratitude makes the benefactor more likely to provide help in the future.
Gratitude acts as a moral barometer, motivator and reinforcer.
The expression of gratitude leads to higher levels of self-worth and fulfillment. It’s no mystery why. Someone who expresses gratitude within their relationships will reinforce prosocial behavior. In turn, they will attract others who will do the same.
Those who feel more gratitude have less likelihood of being depressed. Here’s a spicy anecdote: I have found that many depressed people are very wrapped up in themselves, ungracious of what they have, and are unwilling to recognize the help of others. I know this well, because this was me.
You are what you do.
You are the sum total of those around you. The less gracious you are, the less gracious people you will attract. Non-gracious people are generally disagreeable, unempathetic and unkind. Would you be more or less fulfilled with that sort of person in your life? I’ll buy “less fulfilled” for a 1000, Alex.
Practicing gratitude each day is calling into reality the beautiful serendipity of life. You will attract better people and outcomes. If we take for granted what we have, and thirst for riches we do not possess, then we do the opposite.
If gratitude is the hero in this story, then surely resentment is the antithesis.
Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person gets sick.
The resentful mind is one possessed by victimhood, selfish ambition and disregard for the genuine wellbeing of others. Whenever I come across resentment in myself, I try very hard to recognize the emotion, trace its origins and reorient my thinking. Usually that just means I forgive that person or thank them for providing me the opportunity for growth, even if they ‘wronged’ me. I’m no saint, this is very difficult to do. I fail often.
When I recognize resentment in others, I try to run away 🏃.
If there is a get-rich-quick scheme I would recommend - it’s practicing gratitude. Doing so will help design the life you’ve always wanted, develop incredible relationships and generate high interest return.
People who lead fulfilled lives did not start out by being resentful pricks. They practiced gratitude, maintained a growth mindset and attracted others into their world that have the same qualities. This is the recipe for a strong network of individuals that will exponentially increase your ability to generate a positive outcome. It is the definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So start now. Think of someone who has positively impacted your journey and recognize to yourself how important they are. Shape your behavior and actions in line with the gratitude you feel towards that person. Be gracious to your god, if you have one. Be gracious towards the limbs of a tree fluttering in the distance. It’s an insane world we live in. I think it’s best we take stock of the things we have… while we still have them.
If you admit to having derived great pleasures, your duty is not to complain about what has been taken away but to be thankful for what you have been given.
Gratitude for My Newsletter Homies
Thank you to all of you who have subscribed and read my articles weekly. It’s difficult to summarize how appreciative I am that you elected to receive my writing each Sunday morning. I am more motivated than ever to continue to provide value-added content in each piece.
I would like to give thanks to the following people who have engaged with my articles, written a nice word or provided just that little extra bit of love (whether they know it or not) that helped me through my grinding self-doubt 😅:- writes - writes - writes - writes (great name)- writes - writes
And then of course, receiving a comment like this makes everything seem worthwhile:
Looking forward to reading your publication
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone foreign domestic. You don’t have to be an American to give thanks this week. Take it from me. I’m a Brit, masquerading as an American. Anyone else living that green card life? Give me a shout in the comments.
See you next week, dear friends.
Thanks for the shoutout, Tobias. Great to be on this Substack writing journey with you.
I have a note on my mobile which I call “Something good today”, where I write my gratitudes since some years. It has evolved over time, but, all in all, tends to reply to these questions: “What is something good that I did today (for me or for others)? Any compliments I have received? What is something good that other people did today (for me or others)?“
It’s interesting, since there is a component of extending gratitudes to ourselves which is sometimes ignored. I find it particularly helpful :)
I love your perspectives Tobias. Thank you for a fresh take on gratitude. I love Livio’s “Something good today” idea as well. We too often cut ourselves short.
And thank you for the shout-out! It was such a nice way to start this Thanksgiving week!