Recommit to Virtue: Part 9 of 10 – Gratitude or Wrath

The mistake that Arun Gandhi added to his grandfather’s original seven is rights without responsibility. Arun Gandhi’s insight in developing an eighth error of humanity revealed that each of the proceeding seven blunders began with what many would consider a human right. The eighth human error added the dimension of the responsibilities that accompany rights. In our self-absorbed society, rights are perceived and wrathfully demanded as an entitlement that is void of all personal responsibility. Each right is a freedom, but if used irresponsibly, will be lost. The synergy of rights can elevate us if balanced by a simple attitude of gratitude which nullifies the entitlement mentality because we accept accountability and responsibility for these privileges. In expressing thanks for all things we recognize the contribution of others to our own well-being and personal peace.

Gratitude and wrath are both about communication. A decision is made to communicate appreciation to all and for all, or to communicate anger and resentment to all. What is the difference between the most hallowed prayer of thanksgiving and the most vile of verbal tongue lashings? What is the difference between the kindest act of service as opposed to the cruelest act of inhumanity? Both are extreme: one with words and the other with behaviors. Both are driven from deep-seated emotion. Both are intense, high-energy communications. Both radically affect those on the receiving end of the exchange. It is an issue of allowing positive or negative energy to dominate, and it is witnessed through communication with others.
Maintaining an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional, and physical well-being. Feelings of gratitude lead to more energy, increased optimism, better social connections, and greater happiness when compared with those who do not consistently feel or express gratitude. Grateful people are less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy, or addicted. From my experience, grateful people sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly, and have greater resistance to illness. These benefits are not restricted by age. Children and young people who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches, and feel more satisfied with their friends, families, and school experiences. Feeling grateful or appreciative for someone or something actually attracts more of the same behaviors and circumstances that you appreciate and value. Giving thanks can be beneficial to both the giver and the receiver. It is an acknowledgment that expresses kindness and contentment.
In opposition to gratitude is wrath, which in anger and rage that can lead to cruelty. Anger and wrath are impulsive, and they block gratitude. Anger is often mistakenly associated with toughness and strength. In dealing with anger, some of us seek catharsis by giving it free reign, while others attempt to repress it resulting in bitterness and cynicism. Anger can be manifest as impatience, unkindness, spite, revenge, vigilantism, and cruelty to others. When wrath is directed inward, it becomes self-destructive, violent, and filled with hate; it can lead to suicide.

Originally posted on October 17, 2011 on