Don’t Let The Attitude Of Gratitude Turn You Into A Pushover

The concept of the attitude of gratitude is a powerful one and one I strongly believe in. I wish I could say I was a total avid practitioner but the truth is that it’s something I need to do a lot of work on. The philosophy of being grateful and having an attitude of gratitude is a wonderful stimulus for allowing the greater recognition and appreciation of opportunities as and when they arrive.

The only trouble with the concept of gratitude is the way in some people have interpreted the information. I’ve seen the idea of gratitude turn people into pussy cats cowering in a corner when the truth is that it is meant to take you in the opposite direction. An attitude of gratitude does not mean that you allow yourself to become a pushover to an individual or to a larger organisation. Be grateful for the challenge, but don’t turn a blind eye and turn away and try and find something else to be grateful for. No, no!

If someone steals your car are you supposed to look at your house and say ‘well at least I still have a house!’ That’s just insane! If someone steals your car then sure, be grateful the the police force helping you. If your company decides to take your bonuses away the do you just sit back and take it and be grateful that the sun is shining that day? Hell no! I believe gratitude is accepting the gift of the challenge and turning it into something that helps you grow. The growth itself is a demonstration of that gratitude. Be grateful for the challenge but don’t just sit back and placidly take it.

Taking Action

It’s almost a year ago since a drunk driver ploughed into the side of my car at 7am on a Sunday morning. He came at me from a side road and slammed into the passenger side of my car. I ended up doing a 180 turn and almost ended up in a ditch made by roadworks. Naturally, I was pissed off! I was composed though, and ready to get out of the car to confront the other driver. One man leapt from the car and ran away. The driver and the other passenger decided they wanted to escape!

There was no way I was going to let him get away with it. I remember actually saying that to myself out loud in the car ‘hell no, you aint getting away from me!’ During the pursuit I had to stop but luckily, just at that moment, a police car was passing and I managed to flag them down. The driver was now out of sight but the police managed to catch the drunk driver and charge him. Should I have just been grateful that I was okay and let the driver get away? Maybe, but personally, I don’t think that’s the way it’s meant to work. If there is an injustice, I believe you deal with it.

Gratitude Blackmail

In this economic climate, I’ve heard people saying ‘oh I’m grateful I still have a job’ or I hear employers saying ‘just be grateful you have a job’ and it, quite frankly, sucks! That statement is there to shrink people to enable easy submission. It’s a method of trying to control the masses. I’ve been saying to people take the opposite stance; show no fear over losing your job and it’s something they cannot hang over your head. I’m grateful for the challenge and the excitement of the unknown, but I won’t just take it and hope everything turns out okay.

The demonstration of gratitude I believe is growth. In order to grow I feel it’s necessary to ask better questions. When faced with a challenge I ask ‘how does this serve me?’ Or I might ask ‘how does this help me grow and move forward?’ I am grateful for the challenges always but I will not let the attitude of gratitude turn me into a mouse. Accept and be grateful for the challenges but do not become a pushover as a result of a poor understanding of a wonderful teaching.

48 Responses

  1. Amit, this is one spicy topic.

    When I read the part about employers saying ‘just be grateful you have a job’ I immediately thought about some of my clients, who got this line from their managers to justify huge salary cuts and stuff like that.

    I think gratitude is an option not an obligation, meant to be used strategically. And we should all remember that.
    .-= New at Eduard @ Ideas With A Kick’s blog ..Your ability to smoothly handle hearing ‘No’ is crucial =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      I agree Eduard, it is a bit spicy! I strongly believe what I’ve said though because I’ve seen how passive people have become as a result and I don’t believe that’s the purpose of gratitude.

  2. Phil Bolton says:

    Amit –

    Thanks for a stimulating article. I believe that gratitude is a core foundation for living a peaceful and happy life. It is easy to always be grasping for more and not to feel content with the gifts we already have. Keeping this perspective can help to manage the negative emotions of anger and jealousy that well up inside us all the time – even if this is hard to do sometimes. We have to walk a middle path though and sometimes it is the right thing to stand up for something we believe in – or chase a drunk driver, so good for you. Great article – thanks!

    .-= New at Phil Bolton’s blog ..Find your Focus in 2010 – Feel the Fear and Do it anyway =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Phil,

      It’s wonderful to have you comment on the blog so thank you. When you talk about middle path are you talking about understanding the balance of contrast between say love and hate, not getting to caught up in elation or too bogged down in depression but understanding the balance and necessity of both emotions?

  3. Lana - Dreamfollowers Blog says:

    Amit, this post really made me a look at gratitude from a different angle. I have a lot to think about now:) Thanks!

  4. Interesting Amit , it’s amazing how we have looked at gratitude from two different perspectives .It will be nice to place both posts side by side and hear what people have to say. This is a Lovely post though and here’s my take on it..You are right no one should be a push over to gratitude No! That’s definitely not the way forward..but I have got a Question…. so if we should be grateful for the challenges how do we express it? , as the challenge will be linked to someone or something that may be irritating us, like the employer who says be grateful you still have a job.
    .-= New at Fatibony@Expressivewellness’s blog ..Gratitude Reap the Benefits =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      That’s an interesting question Fatima, I don’t a necessarily express that gratitude as ‘someone’ it may be as simple as just a silent prayer of giving thanks. In some ways, you could say I express that gratitude, at the universe, god, or whatever people like to call that universal force, and I say thank you for bringing me this opportunity for growth.

      Did you ever see the film Evan Almighty? Where God says to Evans wife, when people ask for love, do you think I send them love? Or the opportunity to be loving?

      I say thank you for that opportunity.

  5. Evelyn Lim says:

    Wow! I was going to write a post about gratitude in the next few days and then saw that you had written some thoughts about this topic. Very interesting and a different spin!

    The words “just be grateful you have a job” sure do not sound nice if the employer say them in a condescending tone. I also agree that just because it is a good idea to practice gratitude, we do not turn ourselves into mere wimps! I am not sure if I would have given chase to the drunk driver myself but I would think that I will find myself cursing and swearing – something that I don’t usually do!
    .-= New at Evelyn Lim’s blog ..Planting Seeds of Intent: Creation. Creativity. Gratitude. =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Evelyn,

      I’m glad it’s given a fresh perspective. Those words are definitely condescending and in fact, we’re talking about a similar topic on my radio show today about how companies are exploiting this fact and taking unpaid interns. It’s like they’re using young people for work that they would normally have to be paid for.

  6. Meg at Demanding Joy says:

    Great post! I appreciate that you said that you sometimes struggle with maintaining gratitude. I struggle with it as well so I appreciate the validation.

    I’ve found however that gratitude has to be authentic. You can’t really feel grateful when you’re sad or frightened or pissed off – so just honor your pissed off-ness in that moment. You can get back your perspective and be grateful later. Grateful that you survived or grateful that you fought back. Grateful that you’re NOT a pushover.
    .-= New at Meg at Demanding Joy’s blog ..I’ve Turned the Positivity Corner! =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      You said it Meg, honour your pissed off-ness and I totally agree with you, it’s better to be in the moment than it is to try and force change within oneself, that’s where I believe many illnesses can come in through bottled up emotions.

  7. Hulbert says:

    Wonderful post Amit. I agree that gratitude shouldn’t turn us into a pushover. That’s not the right way to use it. We should be grateful for what we have, but we shouldn’t use it as a coping mechanism for everything bad that happens to us. We should always stand up for ourselves and take action instead making up excuses and becoming passive.
    .-= New at Hulbert’s blog ..Identifying Worst Possible Scenarios =-.

  8. Hulbert says:

    By the way, the 22nd was my birthday and I just realized that I am grateful for you writing that. Thanks! 🙂
    .-= New at Hulbert’s blog ..Identifying Worst Possible Scenarios =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Hulbert, A very happy birthday to you my friend! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I like what you said about not using it as a coping mechanism. I believe it’s about thinking smarter and stronger than we ever have before and this is where this level of thinking comes from.

  9. Kaushik says:

    Great post. I think it’s always good to turn these spiritual concepts on their heads sometimes, because otherwise they become just another way to validate the ego.

    Many of these spiritual concepts are supposed to help us but they often just make people more fearful. Gratitude certainly, and I also know people who are afraid to think certain things or say certain things, just in case the universe turns around manifests something they don’t want.

    I’ve found it is more about letting go. When we can let go enough, there is a natural gratitude for life around us, and it’s not the gratitude of expectation.

    Thanks, another great article.
    .-= New at Kaushik’s blog ..Why we don’t do the things that are good for us? =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      You’re absolutely right Kaushik and thats where I feel things like depression and those types of feelings originate from. I’ve noticed that since I’ve started speaking my mind more often I’m feeling stronger each day.

      It’s amazing how people try and thwart that though. Just the other day I got a bit angry, someone tried to calm me down, that made me more angry! LOL it just goest to show that there are smarter ways of approaching these situations.

  10. Mighty says:

    “If someone steals your car are you supposed to look at your house and say ‘well at least I still have a house!'”

    This sentence made me LOL! But seriously, a lot of people do have this attitude believing they are doing some “positive thinking.” We can probably call this kind of thinking the negative optimism.
    .-= New at Mighty’s blog ..Leadership Academy: 52 Ways to Develop Leadership =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hehehe I’m glad you appreciate my sense of humour! 😉 and that’s a new phrase which I like, negative opitimism – maybe that’s something you can blog about! 🙂

  11. Action is the almighty cure to success. We only succeed in killing fear once we unsheathed our sword form the cloak of dis pare.

  12. Capo For Guitar says:

    Thanks for the informative post. My wife’s calling me for dinner So I need to operate off without reading as much as I’d like. But I put your blog on my RSS feed to ensure that I can study more.

  13. Bi Sadong says:

    I’m so happy that you explained the true meaning of gratitude and how to practice it correctly.

  14. inya kawin says:

    I heard that gratitude can bring many good things into our lives.

  15. Jarred Allaway says:

    Thank you, I’ve recently been looking for info about this topic for ages and yours is the greatest I have found out so far. H

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