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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish


Gratitude is a taught behavior. Ask any parent!

The words “thank you,” are words that are instructed. When mom or dad extends to their child a cookie or toy, they often hang on to it and ask: “What do we say?” When their daughter or son responds with the words “Thank You,” they release the toy or cookie.

This process encourages children to – not only be polite, – but to learn to appreciate the gifts they are given.

I think a lot of us adults would also benefit by learning to say “Thank You.”

It’s easy to become selfish and neglect our need to be grateful. Narcissism – especially in the Western world – encourages self-entitlement. We want what we want, and expect that we should get it – now!

Courtesy, respect, and generosity toward others – while readily acknowledged as appropriate behavior, are rapidly becoming lost practices in our society.

Developing and practicing a spirit of gratitude is essential.

One reason is: Entitlement incites impatience, which encourages rude, and disrespectful behavior. A spirit of gratitude inspires us to re-direct our focus from our self toward the well being of others.

Religious leaders asked Jesus:

“Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” [1]

But Jesus also added a second command: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [2]

It’s a full-time responsibility to embrace the Great Commandment. It’s an impossibility to honor the second one, without cultivating a spirit of gratitude, which frees me to see others, rather than my self.


[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Mt 22:36–37.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Mt 22:39.

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