Exploring gratitude and philosophy

How it has strengthened relationships over time.

While gratitude is building in momentum in the science and psychology world, its roots can be discovered in the thoughts of many ancient philosophers. Lisa O"Neill writes.

Great Roman philosopher and ruler Marcus Aurelius was influenced by the principles of Stoicism and made plenty of statements to herald the importance of gratitude. Aurelius suggested that “the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts”. His belief was that if all men were grateful for their current life, it would create the ideal foundation for a successful society. Before him, in the BC years, it is thought that fellow Stoic and Roman orator Marcus Cicero declared gratitude to not only be the most important of virtues, but the parent of all others.

In more recent history, Scottish philosopher and the father of modern economics Adam Smith proposed, “The duties of gratitude are perhaps the most sacred of all those which the beneficent virtues prescribe to us.” Even as he implemented a revolutionary way of viewing the marketplace as one of self-interest, he knew a well-functioning society meant people relied on one another, and therefore appreciating the roles others played was crucial.

However, plenty saw the Stoic views to be fatalist and in modern times this aspect of gratitude garners some disparity because it suggests we should settle, be satisfied with mediocrity and push away the desire to improve. The supporters of gratitude believe it doesn’t need to exist separately from bettering ourselves; rather it grounds us as we strive to improve by reminding us that where we are, and what or who surrounds us right now, is pretty great too.

Want to learn more about the art of gratitude? Grab the October - November 2017 edition of Australian Natural Health magazine.

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