Gratitude

Our culture seems to teach us that there’s no such thing as enough.

I can enjoy my iPhone, but I’m really very distracted by the fact that I want the newest iPhone. There’s always more for us to try to accumulate, when, in the end, possessions don’t really make us happy.

If we learned to appreciate what we have instead, we would be a lot happier.

We have certain needs that must be filled, of course. That’s not what I’m talking about. I am talking about desires that go above and beyond our needs. The only way not having the things we want can make us unhappy is if we decide it can make us unhappy.

Gratitude can help us deal with the poisons of greed, jealousy, resentment, and grief. When we are grateful we do not wish for more than we have, but appreciate that which is already present in our lives. We do not look upon the good fortune of others and feel jealous.

The desire for more can be boundless and endless—there is always one more thing to want.

Gratitude is something that can occur in us us spontaneously, but it also can be cultivated. The more we practice it, the less room there is for mental poisons to take root.

The desire to always want more is a big part of Buddhist philosophy. The second noble truth states that suffering is a result of attachment.

In this sense, to cravings that can never truly be fulfilled.

But, if we cultivate gratitude and practice the noble eightfold path, then we can work toward overcoming this problem.

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About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg is an independent dharma teacher living in Kansas City. He gives online teachings through the Open Heart Project, the largest virtual mindfulness community in the world. His writing has appeared in Lion's Roar, Patheos, Tattooed Buddha, and Elephant Journal.

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