Gratuitous Gratitude Hides Habits

Beware of habits as they turn choices into destiny.


I can find no other concept more oversold than gratitude. It is like gratitude is the single most rewarding emotion that humans are able to feel.

However, in my experiences so far, this is not the case.

Being grateful on demand is a wisely distorted blackmail: what is not appreciated shall be taken away. Of course this blackmail is mixed with positive emotions, like wonder or amazement, and the result is this cocktail of empty emotional calories we call gratitude.

Most of the time meditation does provoke the emotion of gratitude all by its own. Yet this particular trigger creates a sort of inner directed gratitude, you are grateful for being, not for being something. Nevertheless, it is the same superficial solution to a complex problem.

Of course, I am not saying that one shouldn’t feel grateful. What I’m saying is that provoking gratitude through introspection or, worse, by cherry picking aspects of reality to be grateful for, is merely a self sedation practice that undoubtably floods some neurons with the “right” soup of chemicals. Gratefulness appears on its own when it is authentic.

People are spontaneously grateful. Gratefulness is usually the final step before happiness. Both are fleeting.

And that is ok. We shouldn’t fake them. If we use gratefulness as some kind of reality altering lens we risk a lot. The biggest risk is to miss out on self actualization. The next risk is to inadvertently accept the status quo, by transforming it into a kind of crutch for our deep and personal “meaning”. There is also the risk of dying grateful, which, while sounding like a great thing, is not great because we will not be able to pay attention.

Gratuitous gratitude hides habits.

Beware of habits as they turn choices into destiny.

I think death is a great motivator. The reason it has a bad reputation is because humans thend to oversimplify: you can’t count on one motivator to keep you up and running through the, hugely diverse, jungle of meaningless experiences, you are bound to live.

Gratitude does not heal the one single biggest problem of the mind, which is the imminent and permanent death. And, no, this is not a pessimist a outlook on life, it is just a perspective on gratitude.

You can only be grateful for the past, while your whole life comes from the future. The biggest problem will always be in the future, because the biggest problem is precisely the end of you.

Focusing on the present is only a temporary distraction for a restless mind. The restless mind travels constantly: in time. It goes into the past and brings regret, and it goes into the future and brings angst.

Sure, there are many other sights to visit in time, but regret and angst work best for our damn negative feedback loop, the same loop which keeps us from grabbing the hot kettle from the stove.

Death is a good motivator for action. We call it courage. In fact courage is how we perceive the arousal caused by our curiosity for the experience of the other side of death.

Death is a bad motivator for survival though. For that, we need another kind of “personal trainer” of the mind: self discovery. And so on with many other motivators.

I think we shouldn’t look at our daily routines, nor their individual components through the lens of gratitude, because most of our daily routines are not a choice, but various repetition other people chose for us to repeat, and the haze of the grateful mind will keep us from noticing that the daily grind has us bleeding on the inside.

Just let gratitude be a spontaneous effect of a well done experience.