November 24     

Today's quotation:

In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives.  In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.

Elizabeth Gilbert,
Eat, Pray, Love

Today's Meditation:

I really like this thought:  just say thank you, and move on with your life, and perhaps try to pass it on to someone else someday, somehow.  When I help someone else out, I'm pretty much never thinking about being paid back, and sometimes it makes me a bit uncomfortable when someone feels that they need to pay me back.  I like to give for the sake of giving, because that's what people are meant to do-- I don't think about recompense.  And quite honestly, once I give something, I tend to forget that I ever gave, so the idea of being paid back really never enters my mind.

Let's let people be generous and appreciate what they do for us, but not try to pay back everyone who helps us.  Perhaps one day the time will be ripe to return a favor, but in the meantime, let's just give our thanks and move on.  I truly believe that's the best thing that we can do, for then we're allowing other people to be kind and generous without a caveat, without feeling obligated to them-- because a truly kind and generous person would not want us to feel obligated to them at all.

Pretty much everything that we've ever had has come from others, so it's good to just allow life to be that way and not think about paying people back.  The job you have is the result of someone, somewhere starting a new company, but you don't think of finding the founder and paying back what you owe.  Rather, we try to contribute here and now in the best ways that we can, and that's what a truly generous person will want, too.  If someone helped me out of a bad situation, helped me to get back on my feet, I can use my newfound stability to find ways to contribute to others, and that will be more than enough payback for the person who helped you out.  A truly generous person would want you to pass it on, not pay it back.

There are many wonderfully generous people on this planet.  Let us feel thankful for them, but not beholden to them.  Let us be glad for their presence in our lives and their contributions to our lives, but let us continue to live our lives without the feeling of owing anyone.  They don't want us to feel that way, so let's just move on and keep the generosity flowing, knowing that it was inspired by someone other than ourselves, but grateful that someone taught us just how beautiful giving can be.

Questions to consider:

Why do we tend to feel that we owe people who help us?

Do you always want people whom you help to feel that they owe you?

How might you pay back people who have helped you in ways other than actually paying them back?

For further thought:

To live a life of gratitude is to open our eyes to the countless ways in which we are supported by the world around us.  Such a life provides less space for our suffering because our attention is more balanced.  We are more often occupied with noticing what we are given, thanking those who have helped us, and repaying the world in some concrete way for what we are receiving.

Gregg Krech

more thoughts and ideas on gratitude



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