- By Dana Sparks
Something to Think About: Five depths of gratitude
Dr. Amit Sood asks, "Can gratitude eliminate suffering?"
Gratitude comes with different depths. At one pole are people who don’t know how to be grateful. They plunder the world, forever seeking more. They feel supremely entitled, and they harbor callous disregard for others’ preferences.
A bit more awake are those who employ gratitude to thwart guilt. They use gratitude as a temporary escape into virtue so they don’t feel so selfish in their hedonistic drive. Gratitude in them is an occasional companion, often contingent on something big and special happening, and generally doesn’t translate into prosocial actions.
Next are people who are grateful for the small and simple. They are aware that what they receive is a collective effort of millions. Grateful thoughts visit their mind on most days and translate into occasional actions geared to help the world. They wish the whole world to be happy and are even willing to make a personal sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Further advanced are people who have gratitude as their constant companion. They are content. They have a very low threshold for happiness. Their personal needs are small, their thoughts predominantly prosocial. They still wish to acquire, but only so they can give more. Their gratitude doesn’t lead to inaction; it actually plugs energy leakage.
Finally are people who are grateful even for adversities. They live in a state of surrender. Every experience to them is a meaningful gift. They have transcended the duality of good and bad. These are not dispassionate, apathetic people; quite the contrary, gratitude powers their passion and engagement. They wake up each day to create a more hopeful, happier, and kinder world.
The day the majority of the inhabitants of our world live in the constant company of gratitude, even amid adversity, will be the day we will have eliminated suffering.
May you feel grateful; may gratitude bring you lasting peace and happiness.
Read Dr. Sood's blog posts and follow @AmitSoodMD on Twitter.Dr. Sood is director of research in the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program on Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in Minnesota. He also chairs the Mind-Body Medicine Initiative at Mayo Clinic.