Gratitude means saying a prayer, ´Thank You´, giving gifts and doing actions of love and endearment!
And those are the varied of expressions of Gratitude. But, it is the intention behind those acts which holds a greater significance and meaning.
Gratitude is acknowledging and truly understanding the value of even the most minute blessing in our life and seeing hope and opportunity in them. It is like looking at that proverbial glass and seeing it as ´half-full´. And, being genuinely thankful for that as well as the wonderful opportunity to fill the glass to its full capacity.
I have so many inspiring real-life instances of gratitude around me that not only touch me but also serves as reminder to stay humble and thankful always.
It is my privilege to share with you my most recent tryst with Gratitude.
Last year, I taught in a graduation college for one semester. I was the class teacher of the supposedly ´most notorious class´ in the college. The subject I taught that particular class was ´Personality Development and Managerial Skills´. It was an interesting subject to teach and it was a fun, learning stint as a teacher.
Before the end of the semester, the students had to write one last internal exam. And in my generous mood, I corrected the papers quite liberally overlooking minor flaws like grammar, spelling mistakes etc. As long as they understood the practical concept, I overlooked the rest.
But, you know, how it is with us, Indians! We are born in a notoriously competitive environment where we are taught to fight for every thing. In the educational context, every single mark or half truly matters. We are taught not to give up without a fight.
And so, after the answer-sheets distribution, I was flooded by a surge of students who kept hankering for the maximum marks possible. Including the one who got the highest at 29 wanted a half mark more to make it a full 3-0. I congratulated him for what I thought was a really well-written paper with some innovative answers but I had to turn down his request. Because, you cannot give full marks for theoretical papers. Anyway, I cannot blame them. That is how we have trained them up to become. ´Dog eat dog´ competition!
There was one student, however, who was not fighting to be first in line and haggle like the rest. He was patiently watching and observing the ongoing proceedings with his answer sheet in his hand. After a long wait, it was his turn. Needless, to add, he was the last in the line. But, that was his choice.
As he brought forth his answer paper, I asked him how I could help him. And he simply replied, ´Maam! I didn´t come to add more marks. I just came to show you my paper and tell you that you gave me more marks than I actually deserved. Thank You!´
I was speechless.This was a rare happening.
That incident will never be erased from my memory and will always pop up as sweet reminder to show Gratitude when you ought to. And, I have to thank that wonderful student for teaching me a lesson or two in that department.
Gratitude is so important in our lives but it should be not confused for what it is not. Which is this...
Very often, I see people who take great efforts in going to great lengths to express their Gratitude. But, only to people who hold high positions and titles. People who will be beneficial to them. That is not Gratitude. That is being opportunistic.
To each their own and I am not judging there! But, there is that subtle but very big difference between being grateful and being opportunistic. The former doesn't expect anything back in return but the latter does. It´s like being a real girlfriend or boyfriend vs being a ´Friend with Benefits´!
We have to really sit and think over the true blessings in our lives. And we need to cherish them! From our parents to our siblings to our spouse to our children to our teachers to our friends to our maids and caretakers etc, we have a lot to be grateful for.
Gratitude doesn't come in one form alone. That particular student though was not the only one to express his love and gratitude during my brief teaching tenure. There were so many others and each had their own style of expressing gratitude. Some through words, some with gifts, some through their thoughtful actions.
Even if you are not surrounded with loving parents, siblings, spouse, children etc, there will still be that one strong reason to be grateful.
It could be that you have a fully functional body as opposed to a handicapped person. It could be anything really.
If you wake up alive this morning, it is good enough reason to thank God that you have another shot at Life.
Whether it is well-known people like the limbless motivational speaker Nick Vujicic or regular good people that we encounter in our everyday life like this particular student, in my case, we can all learn a lesson on being grateful for what we have and finding love, hope, meaning and opportunity in them.