How quickly we forget! In early summer I find myself resenting a cool 60 degree morning, when not three months earlier I would have given my right arm for that sort of tropical delight. How easily we take things for granted, and forget the miracle and gift of being alive.

Entitlement is the nemesis of inner peace. It is an insatiable beast. Even laying the whole world at the feet of entitlement is not enough. His first response is, “what took you so long”, the second, “Where is the moon?” Entitlement convinces you that the world owes you a debt, and multiple gifts are barely enough payback for what you deserve.

Gratitude is the anti-venom that neutralizes entitlement’s poison. Gratitude is the opposite of entitlement. Gratitude begins with acceptance of what arises exactly as it is, rather than as you wish they were or expect them to be. Gratitude is not about benefits or usefulness or outcomes. You are thankful that things are just as they are — diverse, surprising, authentic and real. Gratitude is the beauty to entitlement’s beast.

We can’t have enough reminders to dwell in gratitude. Thanksgiving in America was traditionally a time to give thanks for the harvest. By regaining a sense of the original harvest thanksgiving, we learn so much about our own inner lives. Harvest was all about cycles, and each cycle carried a large degree of uncertainty. A bumper crop would mean long and luscious lunches. A lean harvest would mean winter diets of turnips and cabbage soup; dried beans if you were lucky. For some it would mean starvation, or dependence on charity, just to survive. They waited each year with bated breath.

We don’t have this challenge anymore. We just truck over and tuck in, fly down and fry up. We buy bananas from the local store, oblivious to their long flight from Ecuador. We fly in whatever takes our fancy from anywhere in the world, no matter what the season. It doesn’t even cost more. Why would we be grateful for our food, when it all seems so easy? As Bart Simpson prayed before one meal- “Dear God, we paid for this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing,”

Of course there is a cost and there is a cycle, even if we are oblivious to it. The journey of the banana from Ecuador leaves a trail of ecological disaster behind it – a reminder of our lack of gratitude, a massive carbon footprint that stamps “thanks for nothing” all over the sky. If we really understood the cycle; where our food came from, and its seasonal sojourn, we would never eat a thing without enormous gratitude for the web of nature/ human collaboration that brought it to us; the earth that prepared it for us, and the future life of the planet that depends on our choices. Gratitude is active and compassionate.

Comedian Louis CK satirized entitlement. In the old days, he said, you spent the money you had in your wallet, and then when you ran out of money you stopped buying things. Now we feel entitled to credit. Then there is travel. Louis was flying next to someone who complained about losing his internet connection midflight. “How quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only 20 seconds ago.”

Everyone has a story about travel woes. “We were delayed for 20 minutes. We sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes. “Then what happened”, Louis said, “Did you partake in the miracle of flight?” “You are sitting in a chair in the sky” and you complain about how far it reclines?

Catch yourself when you start complaining. When you hear yourself moaning about the weather or how much work you have or how inconvenient this is or how boring that is, say to yourself “and then what. Do I get to partake in the miracle and gift of life?”

The grass is never green enough for entitlement. The grass may be greener on the other side, but even that is unlikely to be green enough. Gratitude reminds us that there is no other side. This is it right now. The grass is greener where you water it. So water this moment with your love and appreciation. You will be amazed at the results. You will grow a whole garden of inner peace.

Gratitude is the parent of all other virtues. Gratitude’s children include optimism, generosity and kindness. Her cousins include abundance, joy and contentment. What came before gratitude? Only the awareness of gratitude. What comes after gratitude? Your life lived with joy and goodwill.

Life is a gift, given as a loan, to regift to future generations.

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  1. Phillip Smith says:

    Thanks so much for this.  We really are an ungrateful lot, are we not, in that so often are we naive in relation to where our food comes from, and the processes that brought it to us. Not to mention our overconsumption, and our lack of gratitiude for our lot in life, considering the countless people in our respective countries, not to mention in the Third World, who, no doubt, would be beset by our greed. I remember a quote from Minerva Cercano, who knew first hand what it was like to grow up in poverty. I still reemember to this day one of her quotes ” We still don’t know what it is to share” We would do well to reverse this trend. Thanks so much.

  2. Just now navigating your site after recently connecting on Twitter. This was actually the first thing I read here. And if it is an example of the wisdom I will find, this just might be the ‘start of a beautiful friendship.’

    Thank you …

  3. Bri says:

    Thank you so much. I really needed this.

  4. Amber says:

    Thank you.  Just what I needed, right now.

  5. Michelle says:

    thank you so much for this article! i laughed out loud several times watching that video…hilarious and so, so true at the same time. i need to remember all of these things – we truly are lucky.

  6. tara says:

    Wow, thank you SO much for this. I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed with all the ‘down’ stuff lately, and this just reminded me that everything that is happening right now will only lead to wisdom, experience and a better future. It has definitely lifted a weight of negativitiy that I hadn’t even realized I had.
    You’re wonderful! I am grateful for YOU!!!!

  7. [...] this video, via soulseeds. “everything is amazing and nobody’s happy.” it’s hilarious, and i wish it [...]

  8. Carole T says:

    Thanks, I needed this right about now!

    CT

  9. Darcy Mann says:

    Beautiful. 

  10. ClockwiseVA says:

    Ian, thank you for taking the time to write this article. A great reminder to make the best of everything we have in life and to be mindful of how we got it. I especially love the line, “The grass is greener where you water it.”

  11. So true. And gratitude brings us the contentment we so crave.

  12. Odd and Ends says:

    [...] Lastly, here’s a nice article to read about gratitude (via Gala [...]

  13. Anne says:

    Thank you!  Just, thank you!

  14. Tomi Bryan says:

    Great insights. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. 
     

  15. Jactweets says:

    Thought inspiring and motivational!!!

  16. Kelly LaMore says:

    As a child who grew up with very little, but still more than many in the world, this lesson was instilled in me and my siblings by our parents.  I think these same thoughts as an adult.  As I meet people who are living a grander life than I, and entitlement creeps into my daily musings about life,  I remember my mom saying “Look around you, you have SO much!”  thank you, Ian for sharing these words.

  17. Margaret says:

    A precious reminder of how much we have and a challenge to stop asking for more. Namaste

  18. Jeanne Maxon says:

    I am grateful for your words…..always!

  19. Jennifer L. says:

    Golly, this is so well-written, Ian. I am very moved by your words. I want everyone I know to read this piece! I especially like your phrase, “Gratitude is the anti-venom that neutralizes entitlement’s poison…” Stunning in it’s truth and simplicity. Thank you. -jjl

  20. ian says:

    thanks Jennifer- happy thanksgiving

  21. ian says:

    thanks Jeanne- grateful for you too

  22. ian says:

    hi Kelly, well said. Happy Thanksgiving

  23. Karuna Gowda says:

    thank you for enlighten article on gratitude. 
     

  24. Joan Kappes says:

       Gratitude puts us in the “now” – my favorite place to live!  Thank you for this wonderful reflection!  

  25. Phillip Smith says:

    This brings home to me how lucky we are in this land , here in Australia that we call “The Lucky Country”. Out of respect for the people concerned, I won’t go into too much detail, suffice to say that, quite often I hear people say that we wish we could have this or that, to which I would reply in the most loving way possible, that we should think ourselves lucky that we have such wonderful places or work, recreation as well as home life. Of course, there are many in the world for whom that isn’t an option, so (for me at least), I guess it just boils down to how can we who have so much, give, and reach out to, those who have very little. Joan summed it  up marvellously. “Wonderful reflection”!! Thank you!!

  26. Mary-Jo Overwater says:

    Somehow, with as little as we had growing up, my incredible parents always made us children give thanks and share anything ‘wonderful’ that we had to offer. Being Italian, that ‘anything’ was the laughter, the joy, and  all the exquisite food they got from the Italian grocers and other purveyors and the meals Mom and Dad, Grandmothers, and extended family members whipped up. They also taught and bequeathed us with their unfailing faith in God. I am SO thankful to have gotten a head start like this. As life has moved on and I’ve travelled and mixed with people born, raised, and sustained with outrageous fortunes and the ‘good life’ from either birth ‘rights’, family and social connections, corporate jobs — I’ve been saddened by how blase`, spoiled, and even downright greedy that those who ‘have’ and have SO much, can be.  As much as we all display our human frailty during struggles and stress, I’ve seen things like pettiness, intolerance, vulgarity, and dare I say, fear, loathing, and hate exhibited to the extreme by folks who supposedly live on the ‘greenest pastures’. God help us!

  27. Phillip Smith says:

    We were reminded this year of a quote from Meiser Ekhart in relation to this which is”If the only prayer you ever said  was  thank you, that is enough”.

  28. Phillip Smith says:

    The exact quote was “If the only prayer you ever said in your entire life was ‘thank you’, that would suffice”.

  29. Truly words of wisdom.   I try to catch myself everyday when that negativity creeps in.  I try to think of the millions of people in this world that have no roof over their head, no food. 
    Then I think I would have to be a really selfish pig to complain about anything in my life!  Then I just say a quick prayer of thanks.

  30. Heulwen Renshaw says:

    Waw, Ian, that really woke me up!  What can I say, other than I really have no right to be anything other than grateful, (although more often than not..I am) but you’ve installed that ‘wide awake’ feeling in me. Whatever I’ll look at today shall be a reminder to think that’s it’s not always about me, yet it is,come to think about it, it is all to do with me..how I should ‘think’ about everyone in ‘one go’ , globally, universally, and with love.
    Clearly, I needed that 2.000 volt charge. Thank you.

  31. [...] A good read  - Gratitude – The Grass is Always Green Where You Water It [...]

  32. Ann JM says:

    “The grass is always greener … .”  This reminds me of a poster I saw many years ago on a high school classroom wall (I was in there for a workshop).
    There was a green field, and it was divided into four quarters by fences ‘+‘.  The cow in quarter 1 was stretching through the fence into quarter 2 to eat the grass; the cow in quarter 2 was stretching through the fence into quarter 3 to eat that grass; the cow in quarter 3 was stretching into quarter 4 to eat the grass there; and of course the cow in quarter 4 was stretching into quarter 1 for the green grass in that quarter.
    The grass was indeed greener for each of these cows.  I’ve never forgotten it, and it was probably about 25 years ago.
    Thank you, Ian, for an excellent reminder.  I enjoyed reading your post.

    Ann

  33. Azan says:

    Thank you Ian, really appreciate and needed to be reminded of how wonderful my life is…right here, right now.
    Peace :: Love :: With Gratitude
    Azan

  34. Janet says:

    I am very grateful that you shared that… being grateful really helps for a happier you/me :)J

  35. Cassie says:

    This great, thank you!