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Gratitude Is One Of The Greatest Human Virtues

By Zile Singh

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

Gratitude is a feeling and expression  of appreciation and thankfulness in exchange for some  favour or benefit we  receive  from others.  Gratitude encompasses small and big deeds anywhere,  anytime and by  anyone. It enriches not only your life but also the life of the person to whom the gratitude is expressed.  We can be grateful not only to the human beings but also to the natural phenomena which  affect us twenty- four hours.  Often times, even circumstances and certain situations can be so effective and favourable that we cannot hold ourselves back without feeling overwhelmed and grateful.   In people’s life sometimes the failure and bad situation have resulted in teaching a great lesson. Therefore it would not be inappropriate to embrace the slogan, “ Be Grateful to Everyone in Every Situation .”  Here, a couplet of Satguru Kabir, one of the exponents of the Bhakti Movement in India says, “ Nindak niyare  rakhiye,  angan kutti chhapai; Bin pani bin sabuna, nirmal kare subhav”- let the critics  be allowed to stay in your neighbourhood because they can be an instrument of  better behaviour for you.   They will remind you every moment not to indulge in criticism of others. The  experts on the subject  have  revealed that a feeling of gratitude has many benefits for our body, mind and relationship.     According to Albert Einstein,  “There are only two ways to live your life.  One is, as though,  nothing is a miracle.  The other is, as though, everything is a miracle”.  If we live with the first option that ‘nothing is a miracle’,  then we will lose the charm and chivalry and  our life will become lonely, secluded and monotonous.  If we live with the second option that  ‘everything is a miracle’,   then our  life will be full of joy, happiness and ecstasy.

Despite the fact that “Gratitude is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all others”, gratitude has remained as  one of the most underestimated feelings.  Gratitude is a panacea to enrich one’s life. Imagine, how elated and happy you will feel  when a stranger smiles at you, greet you and hold the door open for you without expecting anything in return.  Do not wait for other people to do good to you, be the first one to act upon.  The list of persons to be grateful to,  is long.  Your parents, neighbours, friends, teachers even the God and the environment etc.,   fall on this list.  How you treat your parents will somehow leave an impact on your relationship with your children.  It is not necessary that you express gratitude towards your parents when their hair turn gray.  The important thing is that it should be done before the time runs out.  In addition to parents, teachers play an important role in shaping who you are today.  Most of the teachers, besides teaching, motivate and inspire us succeed in life.  We owe a lot to our teachers.    Gratitude towards our friends also is equally required.  Because, “ A friend in need is a friend indeed”.   To remember our teachers and friends   on their birthdays and other suitable occasions and sending them ‘good wishes’ and a small gift  will go a long way to express our gratitude towards them.

`                 One expects gratitude in return for something favourable done to the relatives and friends. On the other hand, an act of gratitude done to a stranger will earn you a  farther mileage in the realm of  joy, happiness and additional acquaintance.  While dining in a community hall, one stranger just asked me whether I need something else on my plate.  A conversation started and amazingly the stranger was found to be a relative of one of my friends.  A small act of gratitude shown by me  expanded our horizon of friendship.

In the heart of hearts, everybody believes in some superpower who has created the universe including the humans. Even otherwise, the universe as such, is a beautiful and mysterious phenomenon to feel grateful to.  Nature is working in such a planned way that one can express one’s appreciation and amazement for every single  incident happening in our day to day life.  When we ‘count our blessings’ we find ourselves in a calmer, freer and happy mood.  As per Psalm 107:1 “ Oh, give thanks to the Lord, he is  Good.  For his loving kindness is everlasting.”  Gratitude is part of Islam- “What can Allah gain by your punishment, if you are grateful and you believe.”  In Hinduism, “ Whatever I am offered in devotion with a pure heart – a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water – I accept with joy.”  In Sikhism, “ Attitude of gratitude brings you opportunities beyond your belief.  And when the prayer becomes the vibration of the body, mind the soul, we can create a miracle.”

Finally, “ Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.  The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Zig Ziglar

Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer and a Vipassana Meditator. He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca .

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