Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.
Good weather will do this to people, bond them in their gratefulness.
-- Elizabeth Berg
Not Every Blessing Requires a "Thanks"
I am reading a lot about this emotional need, and even a moral and solemn obligation to be grateful. From all kinds of preachers to a garden variety of shrinks and gurus, parents, and all other possible folks who propagate the code of morality or religious faith---everybody is advertising this "noble" emotion, for their own bunch of reasons. According to its popularity, it really seems to be something good for us to feel on a regular basis---except that it isn't.
When we come to the very fabric of gratefulness as a habit, we may easily see how it attaches itself and makes stronger a feeling of our moral dependency, eternal debt that we can never pay off, which further dictates a feeling of submission and even possible inferiority. I guess many of you never thought about it that way, so I'd better rush to explain before I get stoned as an ungrateful s.o.b.
And even after the explanation, many of you will not be one bit willing to give up your grateful prayers and that warm feeling of being grateful for just about everything in life. To some of you it may even sound completely untrue that the only habitual kind of gratefulness you owe is the one to yourself--- for all that you have invested into your life, thanks to the way your mind and your heart have been guiding you.
So, even if this article turns out to be a monolog with no one really listening, so be it---I just feel like sharing these thoughts with my computer. Feel free to switch your attention to anything else being offered on internet, I won't mind.
However, I will be grateful if you stay with me. Hey, look, I can be grateful after all, but I need a sound reason for it. In my mind, we owe gratefulness when we receive something that we were not entitled to according to others' "duty" or a code of our established closeness---period.
When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.
-- Oprah Winfrey
Why Say "Thanks" for Our Life?
You may argue with me all you want, but we don't owe gratefulness for "being alive". Not to our parents, not to our gods. It was our parents' wish to have us---or was it merely an accident, as it happens more often than not. Their raising us was their duty, not a "favor to us", and, as you may even start agreeing with me, we don't "owe" gratefulness for being loved. Remember?- when your sweetheart told you "I love you", you didn't say "Thank you".
Then we get to our god and the similar applies, except for some additional points. We don't owe our gratefulness to him for giving us this "gift of life"---unless he is a deity created in our own image and playing those ego-games of holding us in debt for what he did for us.
Remember?- gifts are not given with something-in-return in mind. So, If god didn't create us out of sheer love, then he is not a god, and if he did, then again, we don't owe him anything for the pleasure of his heart to have us on this earth.
After all, folks, we didn't exactly "ask" to be born, right? And if any of that holy teaching is to be taken seriously, we were not "sent back" into yet another incarnation to have fun here---I guess many of you don't see life as one big wild party---but to "learn some lessons that we didn't learn in previous lives". And, as you know, so many of those lessons we are bound to learn a hard way---again, and again, and again in every new lifetime.
Now, let's be honest about it, folks---why in the world should we be grateful for being taken for such dummies who need so many incarnations to learn just some of that stuff from that holy book?
For Pete's sake---no pun intended---some of you already know that book almost by heart, and you are even "spreading the Word"---and yet, I bet you I'll be seeing you again in the next incarnation---for you to learn some more from that same book.
So much more for our low I.Q. to handle that we may never know enough, and never be grateful enough to finally graduate at this earthly school of life! Now, ain't that a shame---certainly not calling for anything like gratitude.
Don't ever stop believing in your transformation. It is still happening, even on days when you may not realize it, or feel like it.
-- Lelah Delia.
Humbleness Is a Virtue---So They Tell Us. Yeah, Right.
I hope at least to some of you all this so far is making a sense, and you won't start slapping me around with your holy book or your "moral manifesto". On the other hand, just between you and me, I don't really mind coming back in as many more incarnations as possible---being a "holy ignorant" or not.
If I knew for sure that ignorance about gratitude was the only way to get subscribed for infinite incarnations, I would write a whole book about our "needless gratitude".
As for the Almighty Dude, we can't argue that, for his own reasons "which we are not to question", he created us in his own image, which most of us ordinary folks never understood as well as those super-smart, super-rich, and super-powerful "god-like" creatures among us on this planet. They got the message right, and they don't mind showing off with their heavenly feathers of power and influence, after having mastered that resemblance to god's image.
Joining the holy book, those chosen few are teaching us to be grateful to our country, among all other demands upon our sense of duty. Remember those famous words of John F. Kennedy: "Don't ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country".
Swell! So it's not enough that we are paying taxes through our noses, we should also feel "privileged" and "grateful" to have a country. They own the land where you have your home taxing you for using it; and they may even own your life, should they find it necessary to draft you for another idiotic war Vietnam-style.
Between them and "men of cloth" you get to be called something dignifying like "sheep" and "patriot"---both giving you attributes of someone who can't use their own mind but has to be told what to think, believe, and feel, what to live for and die for---including gratefulness.
Along with that comes another flattering demand that you be "humble". Humble in front of whom? We are all equal humans, all of us coming to this world with the same visa of kings and beggars. We all eat, sleep, and crap as humans, and then we all equally go belly up, none of us with a more or less "noble" last breath released.
So, if any of you feel like being "humble"---go ahead, I don't, it's "against my religion".
Invaluable mark of wisdom is to see miraculous in the common.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Opting for Satisfaction Instead
For those of you who may smell the aroma of anarchism or rebellion emanating from this article---please don't. All this has absolutely nothing to do with our being law abiding citizens. We need law and order, chaos is for animals, even though our laws sometimes remind me of that wise saying: "Law is the cobweb that small flies catch in, and big flies tear apart."
It's all strictly about our reasons or lack of them for being grateful on a steady basis. At this point it would be good to mention another feeling that is closely related to the one of gratefulness---satisfaction. As a matter of fact, to some folks it's almost impossible to express their satisfaction without a thanks being given in the next breath.
In the computation of their mind it's an emotional tandem with the one of humbleness and the issue of "deserving". Namely, it's like they have just been blessed with more than they may deserve, so they need to say thanks for it.
This feeling of satisfaction, when made a habit, may be especially useful if we are to believe in that Law of Attraction being so much talked about these days. According to its theory, by cultivating satisfaction we are bound to receive more reasons in life to be satisfied---while the opposite also being true about constant complaints attracting to us more of the same crap to complain about.
As I was suggesting earlier, being satisfied may only call for gratefulness to ourselves and our ways of leading our lives.
However, it goes even without saying---all those noble gestures from our friends and strangers, and all those unexpected blessings coming from anybody at all---to which we are not entitled--- will always fill our hearts with gratefulness.
Since I am not a normative dude suggesting to anyone how they "should" or "shouldn't" think, feel and act, I hope that this article won't be taken that way---and mentioning that golden maxim "to each their own" is always a good way to end articles like this.
Your Opinion about Gratitude
© 2017 Val Karas
Val Karas (author) from Canada on March 24, 2017:
Scott---Thank you for visiting. When it's about human nature, some topics stay evergreen; and hopefully people will keep their heart's need to be grateful---just a little more selective about it, which was the theme of my article.
promisem on March 24, 2017:
This article raises ideals that I rarely hear anymore, such as gratitude, humility and honesty. To some people they seem old fashioned, but they mean something to anyone who cares about living life on a higher level.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on March 23, 2017:
Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on March 16, 2017:
Vladimir, people can see things many different ways but respecting the opinion of others goes a long way. I thank you for being who you are. Your kind words to me are appreciated.
Val Karas (author) from Canada on March 16, 2017:
Dana---I can tell, you are deriving quite a big joy out of your religious faith, and I admire you for that. We don't have to imitate each other's views in order to find something positive in them, right?
It's great that you have found a peace and harmony in your heart through your prayers and gratitude to God. We are all different, and so are the many ways to that peace and harmony, mine being in my own version of spirituality.
And it's great that we can have our own ways and not push them onto others as "the only right one". That's another reason for me to have a great respect for your devotion to God.
Thank you for being who you are.
Val Karas (author) from Canada on March 16, 2017:
MizBejabbers---You are right---if you gave me that penny I would give you a dollar back and let you keep the change, so that both of us end up rich and grateful to each other.
Then you kept being right for the entire rest of your comment by saying all that good stuff about our nonexistent need to be grateful for whatever may befall us in life. I like your thinking, and if you lived somewhere around the corner, by now we would probably have a friendly coffee together and enthuse each other with our mindstyles.
Then I would thank you for paying for coffees with that dollar that I gave you, and we would split as two grateful friends. For, we ARE friends, aren't we?
Thank you for your kind comments hinting that we are.
Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on March 16, 2017:
As a child I remember playing with my dolls and then suddenly saying out loud- "I don't want to come back here!" That was not the blubbering of an innocent babe, I truly meant it.
One of the biggest challenges I face in my ministry is having people say "Why should I worship or praise, or be grateful, I didn't ask to be here?" Who can argue with that it's true no one asked to be here or at least we don't think we did.
I will say that I am grateful for my humanitarian causes. I once complained about the world all the time. I went from complaining to trying to make a difference.
It doesn't always bring me joy however, it does give me a sense of satisfaction. I enjoyed reading this, it definitely gave me food for thought.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 16, 2017:
Your thoughts are always interesting, Vlad. I'd offer you a penny for them but you'd give at least a dollar's worth in return so then I'd have to be grateful. LOL Some of them can be refreshing in this rah-rah world where we are all supposed to feel good about ourselves. You hit the nail on the head when you spoke of religion teaching that a person was unworthy, therefore he/she should be grateful for life and whatever befalls that person. I don't buy that "unworthiness". A person is whatever he/she makes of himself. The evidence (in my mind anyway) is wherein some kids from "good" families go bad, and some kids from bad families become heroes and leaders. I believe the gods help those who help themselves. I don't mean in a dishonest way because I do believe in Karma and reincarnation. We can love each other and say thank you for the courtesies and favors that come with friendship, but we don't have to look upon it as a favor from "God".
Val Karas (author) from Canada on March 15, 2017:
Ruby Jean---Let me start where you finished: of course we have to be grateful to people for doing for us what we are not entitled to. I mean, since it's not their "duty" to read our hubs and to leave a comment, they do it out of their curiosity and a good heart, so we have to thank them.
As for your thanking God, go ahead, no one in the world can tell you not to. In the nature of all of my hubs is that I am expressing MYSELF, my views and attitudes, which have no ambition to become someone else's. Just like a poet is SHARING their literary inspiration, so am I. Thus, just because I am not thanking God is not suggesting that it is a "wrong" thing to do.
LOL, I am also shaving my beard and moustache every morning, and I am not expecting you to do the same. I hope this little humor may also be a good metaphor for my point.
Thank you, Ruby, you are such a fine lady and a writer, and it flatters me to get your kind comments.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 15, 2017:
Never let it be noted that I do not read other's thoughts on almost anything. I for sure never thanked my parent's for conceiving me, but I'm glad they did. I have so much to learn, I want to come back reincarnated, plus I would like to see how much we've advanced. I would probably get to fly in space, now that would be fun! I will admit that I do thank God daily for blessing my family. It just makes me feel good to do that, and what does it hurt? I guess I say thank you more to the people who follow me and comment than anyone else. How would they know that I appreciate them if I didn't say " Thank you ? " Interesting topic to ponder.....
Val Karas (author) from Canada on March 15, 2017:
Alan, my old buddy Down Under---So great to see your spirited face again! THIS is something for me to be grateful for, along with your always kind comments to my smart-ass-scribblings.
So you say it's raining down there...and a nuisance. But then, what else are you saying there...life has been good, and health too---and you ended it up with a "Thanks!"---which seems incomplete without "Thanks, Alan!"
Come on, dare to take the credit for all of it; I know it's raining, but even if it's thundering, you won't be stricken down by a thunderbolt for saying it. Trust me, I've survived many of those for bigger "sins".
jonnycomelately on March 15, 2017:
I always like waking up to your new writings, Vlad.
I want to say thanks for this bl..y rain, but it's a bl..y nuisance.
I want to say thanks for my health but, hey! Would I really want it any other way?
This life of mine has it's off moments but mostly it's pretty ok and satisfying.
Can't say thanks or no-thanks. Just is. But damn it! Thanks anyway.....