Sunday, July 6, 2008

Relative gratitude vs. absolute gratitide

It's easy to be grateful. So, why is that we often want more than we have? We want more because we see that someone else has something we don't have.

When I hear someone talking about their vacation and where they went, what they did, how their children had fun; I feel sad about not being able to afford vacations. My kids don't have vacation memories. We've taken some camping trips, but family reunions are the only vacations we've had over the years. Yes, I'm grateful for the memories my kids have from them.

I'm grateful that our old vehicles get us to where we need to be every day because it truly is a miracle when we are safe and our cars are working. I don't need a fancy car, but I would like to not feel worried about what we would do if one of our cars absolutely had to be replaced. How could we afford a car payment? We don't have a vehicle that we can trust to drive long distances. And, the price of gas has definately cut into our budget in a painful way. I look around and wonder how other people afford cars and insurance and gas?

I'm grateful that my kids are healthy and that they have opportunities for education, sports, and various activities. Yet, it prickles my skin a little bit to listen to people talk about how a relative bought their kid the newest electronic game, or I hear about kids going to expensive sports camps, or a teenager receiving a new car from his/her parents, etc. I wish I could do more to help my kids financially, but I also know people who pretty much cut their kids off when they graduate from HS and they are on their own for everything.

No matter which way we are looking there is a different direction. For every privelege that I see there is a basic life-sustaining need somewhere else. For every new car there is someone wondering how they are going to feed their kids. For every opportunity that my kids have there is a kid wishing he/she could have a supportive and caring family.

There are miracles every day to be grateful for. Do we miss some of them because of the direction we are looking?

If we are relatively grateful that means we are grateful for what we have when we compare ourselves to someone else who has less than we have. (Or, someone who has more than us but we judge them to be unhappy, or at least unfortunate in some way.)

If we have absolute gratitude there is no comparison and we feel joy in our hearts for everything that comes our way, the good and the bad.

Is it possible to feel absolute gratitide when we have eyes to see what others have, and ears to hear what others are doing, and televisions showing us what is available to feed our appetites?

Think about it and your desires will reveal themselves.

carry on


Bob said...

I think people just have different priorities. Very few people in this world really have it ALL. I knew a family that lived in a crumby house that was falling apart, they never took vacations and they drover older but nice cars. They did however wear very nice clothes and had new outfits on weekly. I always wondered how anyone could afford to buy so many clothes. I was finally able to decide that they spent all their money on clothes. We tend spend all our money on our family vacation so I find myself wondering why we cant dress like them or why we cant do this or that, things others seem to do. I do realize now though that each family does the one or two things they do at the sacrifice of other things.

I read "I'm Rich Beyond My Wildest Dreams". It is kind of korny but I learned a few valuable lessons about positive thinking...Faith. Teamed up with "The Secret", I have learned that if we sit around and worry about not having enough money, we wont have enough money. We get what we think about. It has made a huge difference in my life and my ability to be fully grateful and happy.

Katy said...

"...each family does the one or two things they do at the sacrifice of other things." Excellent point. Some families are able to do whatever they want and don't have to pick and choose, but I think they are the exception. Every time I find myself feeling like a poor, poor, pitiful child I am instantly snapped out of it (sometimes reluctantly because self-pity can be temptingly soothing) by a simple gratitude list. This doesn't mean that I dont wish I had certain things sometimes, rather it means that I am profoundly grateful for what I DO have.

One story: Years ago I remember sitting at one of my kids games and some teenage boys were sitting in front of me. One boy came up to where his friends were sitting and they asked him why he didn't come to some event (didn't hear what it was). He said, "Because we didn't have enough money for gas." I realized that I had taken it for granted that I had been able to drive to the game to watch my child.
Of course, such a comment would perhaps not have the same effect today with gas prices as they are. We are all staying home more often.

Thanks for your comment.