I've learned, of late, that ingratitude kills. Literally.
In Fyodor Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment," one man's utter absorption in himself leads to his murdering not one but two people.
Within the first pages, we meet Raskolnikov, an ex-student who used to tutor children, a man who has grown so apathetic that his daily needs don't much matter to him anymore. He doesn't have any boots. He doesn't care much about the food his friends try bringing him.
Instead of finding a humane way to earn some much-needed money, Raskolnikov has been lounging around his apartment for several days, conjuring up a way to kill a rich (and, he thinks, horrid) old woman.
Selfish pride guides his refusal to return to teaching children. Raskolnikov wants money now — and, well, tutors don't get paid much.
So dissatisfied, so discontent is Raskolnikov that he murders for money. As James E. Faust once accurately noted, without gratitude, "rebellion often enters" — rebellion against beauty, decency and honesty. How different Raskolnikov's life might have been if he'd had a grateful heart!
In short, gratitude makes virtuous people, but ingratitude has the power to destroy souls.
When life pulls us down, how do we keep ourselves from falling so far into the hole of ingratitude that it consumes us entirely? Here's what eight of the world's finest teachers have to say.
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others."
Finding things to be grateful for, even during the hardest times, helps you recognize when others are in need. Gratitude helps you notice that others are there to support you. It helps you see that God is there.
"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance." -Eckhart Tolle
Don't waste your time wishing you had something you don't, failing to acknowledge what you do possess.
"God gave us minds to think with and hearts to thank with. Instead, we use our hearts to think about the world as we would like it to have been, and we use our minds to come up with rationalizations for our ingratitude." -Douglas Wilson
It's not enough just tofeel grateful. Most of us know what it feels like to sacrifice time and resources for others without even hearing a word of thanks. Write a note. Send a text. Bake "thank you" cookies. Perform an act of service in return.
Remember Raskolnikov, a man so discontent that he refuses his own redemption. It isn't until he opens his heart in love and gratitude that he is able to step on the path of change.
Don't let ingratitude mulitate your soul. A better life lies ahead!