The Misconception of Gratitude
I saw a funny but true conversation on Twitter the other day where people were talking about the fact that Kenyans will always tell you to be grateful for ‘XYZ’ despite whatever it is you’re going through. One woman was told that she should be grateful for the sleepless nights because at least she had a baby.
There and then I saw the misconception of gratitude. People always assume that you need to be grateful for the good and the bad because your frustration means you have something to be frustrated about. Not only does this take away your right to feel your feelings about your circumstances/life but it also just stupid. Because I can be grateful that I have a child and other women don’t but guess what? I’m still going to have to deal with all the curve balls motherhood throws at me and sometimes I will not deal with them with grace. So miss me with that shit.
I think in the world, a lack of something is often needed to justify actions or statements. You don’t have a house so you can complain. However, if you have a house, you’re not allowed to complain about the fact that you have no water. Surely. I still don’t have water. I think gratitude is one of these things that is supposed to refocus you on the things in your life that truly matter. If I feel like my life is spiralling out of control, it’s always nice to get a friendly reminder that the sky isn’t falling. The other day I was thinking how a pay rise wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. While spring cleaning, I found an old pay slip from years and years ago. I was making next to nothing but I do remember being happy and living a full life. In that moment, I could appreciate my circumstances – but I would still like that pay rise!
Gratitude is supposed to lead to surplus if you believe that kind of thing. When you think about the things you have, they multiply. When you think of the things you lack, they will elude you forever. So I don’t believe you need to be grateful just because someone else is lacking. You can be grateful for what you have and still aspire to more, want more without ever having to explain it. That, I think, is what gratitude is about.