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.
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.
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.