Gratitude was what I was going to write about for today. I even wrote it on my calendar, so I wouldn't forget. I was going to write about how it is important to be thankful for everything that you have in your life, and how being grateful is part of having a positive attitude and good overall mental health.
There is a lot of pressure on us to be grateful. We are told that we should just accept everything that comes to us and be grateful that we get it. We are so pressured about being grateful that some people feel guilt about it. That is wrong.
Yes, gratitude is extremely important. We should be thankful for every single gift we are given. What about a gift that's not really a gift? What if it's your birthday and someone gives you an old copy of a Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute album, knowing that pan flute music makes you have seizures? What if you're given a fruit cake by someone who knows darn well that you're allergic to it? How about the husband who buys his wife fourteen pairs of size 4 bikini underpants from Victoria's Secret when she's a plus-size person?
Some would fall back on that old adage that it's the thought that counts. Really? So the person who knew that you were allergic to fruitcake really put thought into purchasing a fruitcake? Doesn't that make them homicidal instead of generous? One could argue that the husband sees his wife as a size 4, and that buying such a small size is a compliment, I guess. The more likely scenario is that the man forgot the occasion, and just ran to the mall and grabbed whatever was on the table, but there may be a lovestruck individual who sees his bride as a petite flower and not as a flower truck. (To which I would argue that true love is seeing the real person standing in front of you and not an illusion of that individual. Because I'm crazy like that.) It's a sad fact that some gifts have no thought behind them at all.
And how about the left-handed compliment? We've all heard them over the years. "Elise, this potato salad is so much better than that crap you brought to the last potluck. You've obviously been reading some cookbooks!" Should we be grateful for the compliment that comes with a knife to the back? I know that we are taught to turn the other cheek, but that doesn't mean that we need to be grateful.
I'm not telling you to scream at the person or throw a punch. I'm not saying that you should get angry; there's no point in anger here. All I am saying is that there should be no guilt if the gift is a less than thoughtful one. Guilt is a negative emotion, and nobody needs extra.
So how about this? Let's be grateful for the people around us who love us, no matter what. Let's be grateful for the pets who enrich our lives with their antics, their purrs and their puppy licks. Let's be grateful for the enthusiastic laughter of children on a lovely spring day. Let's be grateful for the sun in the sky and the earth beneath our feet. Let's be grateful for the kindness of strangers in far off lands. Let's even be grateful for that forgotten piece of chocolate that you found in the back of your desk drawer at work that day when you really needed it.
And then maybe we can forgive a few thoughtless gifts or comments.