What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is commonly understood as being thankful for what we have, when others don't have it. That is to an extent correct, but it is not a complete definition. Like, if you're going through a tough time with an illness or a financial loss, and I say look at kids in Somalia, they don't even have food, you'll probably roll your eyes at me and mentally kick me. Or maybe even physically. How does that reduce the amount of suffering you're going through, you may ask? And you would be right.

Also, in my opinion, trying to tell you that someone else is suffering more than you are is trivializing your pain - as if to say your suffering isn't bad enough and hence not important enough. No, no, no, no, no! So, while gratitude does mean thanking the universe (or God, or the powers-that-be) for what we have while others don’t, this definition, in my opinion doesn't cover it all.

Gratitude, according to me, is to recognize how much more we have over what we think we have. This definition doesn't look at anyone else's lot, but only at our own. We always have more than we acknowledge. Stop, look, listen! You will find a hundred more things to be thankful for than you realize. Those hundred things may still not provide a life that you would 'like to be leading', I agree. But those hundred things have already made your lives better than you think. Recognition of these things as a habit will automatically improve your lives more and more every day.

In order to be truly grateful, you don't have to think of things that make you feel ecstatic today. Like, you don't have to win a lottery or your crush doesn't have to agree to a date, or you don't have to get a promotion. Understandably, if those are things that you are looking for, you will find very few of them.

Instead, you must look for things that would make your life worse if you didn't have them. For example, if you like coffee and if it were to suddenly become unavailable, would it not matter to you? Would it not make your life a tad worse? So, if you're still getting your fix every morning, why not appreciate it?

How about running water? The ability to take a shower whenever you want? A bed to sleep in, however hard? A job, however unsatisfying? To reiterate, the point isn't about how much joy they add to your life right now. The point is how much misery they'd add to your life if they were to be taken away. Think about that.

In the pandemic, I realized I had more time to spend with my family. I got a much needed break (even though it wasn’t a vacation). I reconnected with a lot of people I had lost touch with. Second year running, and my family, extended family, and I are still healthy - most uninfected, some infected and recovered. Why shouldn’t I be grateful?