The art of gratitude

You may have heard the term ‘poverty porn’. Even if you haven’t, you’ve most definitely seen it; images of poor people, often taken without their permission distributed to generate profit, or elicit donations.

Of course we feel sympathy for poor people. Of course we want to help them. But often our sympathy is accompanied by what we believe is gratitude; the belief that there, but for the grace of God, go I.

We are grateful we don’t have others’ problems.

I’m going to ask you to consider something though – do we need the existence of those less fortunate than us to be grateful for what we have? Do we need to compare ourselves with others to be thankful for our blessings? Is it fair on others to use them as a yardstick of what is and what isn’t desirable for us?

The way I see it, comparing ourselves to others is still comparing; a sort of ‘have, have not’ Olympics. It doesn’t make much sense when it seems as if so many of the problems we have are so often based on us comparing our lives with others’. It’s like walking up and down a staircase, instead of taking the time to simply appreciate the view from where you are.

Gratitude is sometimes defined as ‘the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness’. There’s nothing about being thankful for what we don’t have.

We live in a fast-paced world that focuses on immediate gratification. We want everything right this second. Anything that takes longer than that is simply an inconvenience. Part of that contributes to our lack of taking 5 minutes out of the day to reflect back on everything we have in our lives. 

When we say ’thank you’ to someone, we’re not thanking them for not giving us something; we’re showing we’re grateful to receive.

So maybe it’s time we just count our blessings, instead of counting others’ woes and being glad we don’t have them. This might be the art of gratitude, and a path to a fuller, richer life.

Try this little 5-minute practice each morning when you get up. Better yet, keep a journal handy to write it all down in.

Step 1: Find a quiet place (Again, it’s best to do this right when you wake up)

Step 2: Write down 3–5 things you’re grateful for that morning. It could be something as simple as your morning cup of coffee.

Step 3: Spend a few minutes thinking about how appreciative you are for having these things in your life.

These steps seem simple, and they are, but they can do wonders for your mood. You start the day off on the right foot, being grateful for everything that you have. Try it for a week and see how it helps improve how you feel each morning.


Aneshree Naidoo is a personal development coach living and working in Johannesburg. She specializes in helping people achieve specific goals and overcome obstacles to personal growth including relationships, business, finance or health and wellness.

How to connect with Aneshree Naidoo


Disclaimer: The views and comments expressed in this piece are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Indian Spice. This opinion piece is in no way meant to minimise or demean the daily struggles people in poverty face.  


About Indianspice Staff Reporter

Report and write stories for Indianspice.co.za. It is our ambitious goal to cover issues/events/news concerning South Africa and the diaspora.

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