Chaper7-2 : “In all things, be grateful” we are told Yet we quickly forget the things that have been
People often come to me with the complaint that they can’t feel grateful.
They’ve been taught since childhood by parents and schoolteachers that they should “in all things, be grateful.”
The same advice is given in various selfimprovement texts.
Yet though we are told to be grateful, it seems there are very few people who tell us how we can develop feelings of gratitude.
It does no good to tell someone who doesn’t know how to be grateful to “be grateful.”
Someone who can’t feel gratitude may decide he is a bad person, and fall into depression.
Shakyamuni Buddha teaches us the threefold practice of Knowing Gratitude, Feeling Gratitude, and Repaying our Debt of Gratitude.
The Chinese character for “gratitude” is composed of elements meaning “cause” and “mind/heart.”
The mind/ heart that knows the causes of things is “gratitude.”
We are living today because of the beneficial influence of many persons and things.
The knowledge of this is “gratitude.”
If one cannot feel gratitude, it is because one is not aware of the beneficial influences one is receiving.
If one becomes aware that one is being supported by many various persons and things, a spirit of happiness and gratitude naturally arises.
So the first step is Knowing Gratitude—being aware that one is supported in life.
Then Feeling Gratitude will naturally arise.
And one will feel the need to do one’s best for the people who have supported one.
This is Repaying our Debt of Gratitude.
Hearing this, there may be those who think, “No one’s supporting me!”
“No one’s done anything for me!”
Regarding this, I’d like to introduce the results of an interesting psychological experiment.
An American psychologist did the following research, using four hundred people as subjects:
He had them write down the actions they had taken for the sake of others and the actions that others had taken for their sake.
The ratio of the former category to the latter was an amazing 35 to 1.
Which is to say that human beings are creatures who remember what they have done for others far better than they remember what others have done for them.
A woman once came to me and complained, “I have done everything for him, but he’s not at all grateful.”
I then took the trouble to ask the man about it, and he grumbled, “I’ve wasted so much time and money listening to her complaining over the phone, and she’s not appreciative in the least!”
Human beings are creatures who remember what they’ve done for others by a factor of 35 to 1, so no wonder they can’t feel gratitude on demand.
People are unable to feel gratitude because they are unaware of how much they are being supported by others.
If they become aware of that, the spirit of gratitude will germinate in the heart of anyone at all.
That is why Shakyamuni Buddha taught first of all the practice of Knowing Gratitude.
Once that is done, Feeling Gratitude and Repaying One’s Debt of Gratitude will follow.