Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gratitude - according to the Ancients

As a child I remember rebelling when anyone would tell me ‘count your blessings’. As a young man I felt much the same when told to ‘be thankful for what you’ve got’. It seemed to me only to accentuate what I did not have. It seemed a cheap shot, an old tired catch-all put-down phrase. ‘Of course, it is the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story.’ said Margaret Thatcher. Behind the old tired phrases lies the truth, whether we are open to receiving it or not. ‘Count your blessings’ is a great wisdom, whether we choose to do it or not. ‘Being thankful for what you have’ is the attitude of a great and cultivated mind, whether we understand it or not.
Here is what the Ancients had to say about gratitude, probably to the rebellious unlistening youth of long long ago:

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful. Buddha

You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy. Buddha

A noble person is mindful and thankful of the favours he receives from others. Buddha

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls. Aesop

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. Cicero

Nothing is more honourable than a grateful heart. Seneca

There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn, as in doing it. Seneca

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. Epictetus

Only a stomach that rarely feels hungry scorns common things. Horace

A grateful mind is a great mind which eventually attracts to itself great things. Plato

Take full account of what excellencies which you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not. Marcus Aurelius

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Phil 4:6

Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25:29


Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. Tao Te Ching

2 comments:

Daniel Brenton said...

This and two more of your posts were selected to be part of the New Year's Eve edition of Gratitude Watch.

Thank you for promoting the value of gratitude.

Alex said...

Thank you for the mention Daniel and keep up the good word.

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond