Nov 14, 2013 | By George Gantz
Are we a Culture of Gratitude or Entitlement?
This month’s Big Questions Online projects features a commentary by Dr. Robert Emmonds (guru of gratitude) on What Must We Overcome as a Culture or as Individuals For Gratitude to Flourish? Dr. Emmonds points out that while we live in a world dedicated to the pursuit of happiness, this pursuit seems to have morphed into self-entitlement. When material things come to us so easily, we begin to believe that that is what we deserve and we lose the ability to be grateful. But research consistently shows that feeling gratitude is essential for happiness.
We all have tendencies to self-preoccupation or even narcissism. Emmonds uses the example of the story (Luke 17:16-18) of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, only one of which returned to give thanks, as a reminder of how common ingratitude is. He also stresses that gratitude requires humility. Humility allows us to recognize “that everything good in life is ultimately a gift.
The comment section is worth reviewing as well as the essay. In Emmonds reply to my comment, he noted that he was introduced by a co-author to Swedenborg: “She shared with me Swedenborg’s insights that those who feel love toward the neighbor and a blessedness toward God are in a grateful sphere or heavenly state, and are thus in heaven. Also that it is through gratitude we have the ability to live in a joyful, peaceful state; in its paradoxical, elusive way, gratitude is the door to many heavenly gifts. But the door is low, and Swedenborg reminds us that we must humble ourselves to enter.” Well said.