Wednesday, February 1, 2017

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL NEED TO BE GRATEFUL: MY RESPONSE TO STOICS WHO BELIEVE THAT THERE IS A RATIONAL BASIS FOR GRATEFULNESS WITHOUT GOD





While most of us acknowledge the connection between gratefulness and psychological well-being, we differ about how to be grateful.

While it is natural and even rational to be grateful for the sun and the rain, if you are a farmer, it is equally natural and rational to be ungrateful for the tornado and the tsunami. This suggests that we are fated to be grateful when things go well and miserable when they go badly.

The same is true if we are grateful for the people in our lives. If they make us feel good and teach us valuable lessons, we are grateful. If they don’t, it is both natural and rational to not feel grateful. Therefore to practice gratefulness when there is nothing for which to be grateful is both irrational, unnatural, and not in accord with wisdom, even if it might momentarily make us feel better.

The Christian understanding is different. We have the resources to feel grateful in the worse of circumstances. Why? We are convinced that our Lord is working everything for our good. Besides, even if we experience the worst forms of victimization, we are convinced that the Lord has everything under His control, and that we will ultimately be with Him in paradise for all eternity.

1 comment:

  1. I had wanted to explain that Christ is the glue that holds our dearest values together. Just to take a simple one – humanity-centered virtue or ethics! Stoicism is humanity-centered as it should be, but why? Without Christ, Stoicism is left to build with only pragmatic reasons or building blocks.

    Meanwhile, many Western voices claim either that all life is of equal value or that there are certain characteristics – like sentience or the depth of feeling – that convey a greater value upon us.

    Of course, if all life is of equal value, then our laws should reflect this “fact,” to our ultimate destruction. If, instead, value is derived according to the degree of our intelligence or emotion, then human equality and “equal protection under the law” are out-the-window.

    Pragmatism lacks the essential glue to hold these vital foundational elements (even gratefulness) in place. It leaves us with evolving-virtue – an inadequate foundation for any life or building.

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