Explaining the Mental Work of Gratitude to Make Our Lives Better

I mentioned gratitude in the previous article (this article). Let’s focus on that emotion. Today, I will talk about the origin and how to deal with it.

How to deal with gratitude

Sometimes, we want to control our emotions. In other words, we could have uncontrollable emotions if we have an inferiority complex or confusion about values.

One of them is the emotion of gratitude. It usually makes us spiritually fulfilled, especially for highly empathic people. For example, if we help someone with trouble and he rejoices, that makes us happy. He is grateful to us. We can feel it, too. In addition, we can be thankful that we can help someone. Gratitude brings us happiness.

However, it could hurt us if we misunderstand it. For example, we could confuse gratitude with guilt if we have an inferiority complex. We might feel, “I should be grateful to my parents,” even though we don’t want to do so.

There is usually a sense of forced guilt behind that. If our parents pretend to be victims, we tend to feel, “I made my parents suffer, so I must compensate for them.” That creates an obsessive sense of duty to be grateful to parents. That is guilt, not gratitude. Misunderstanding gratitude often causes mental suffering.

We want to deal with the emotion appropriately but often don’t know how.

Today, I will explain the origin and how to deal with it. This knowledge might help us feel pure gratitude healthily.

What is gratitude?

Assume we are empathic people. Gratitude is a sense for us to determine whether the person we have helped is satisfied.

To explain it, let’s see the origin of gratitude.

We humans live in society. Social collaboration gives us a more efficient environment, such as protecting ourselves, creating necessary things, or exchanging values. We can rely on someone good at each other.

In other words, social collaboration means playing a role. It makes our society thrive and prevents extinction.

The purpose of empathy

One of the fundamental roles is helping weak people. Let’s compare primitive lives with advanced animals here.

Primitive lives don’t help weak individuals because they don’t have to. They only conflict with others and leave behind weak individuals. Those lives usually lay many eggs to thrive. This is effective when there is no cost to raising children, such as fish or frogs.

On the other hand, advanced animals, such as humans or mammals, tend to have a higher cost and time to raise children. In this case, if we leave behind weak individuals, the population could decrease soon. In other words, we have to help weak people to maintain the population.

That is why there are empathic individuals in humans. Empathy enables people to determine if someone needs help. Negative emotions of others, not only hunger or pain but also sadness or loneliness, make us want to help them. That prevents the population from declining.

The meaning of gratitude

Gratitude is part of that process. When we help a weak person, we have to determine whether he is satisfied. We have to know when we finish our aid because excessive help can be harmful.

Gratitude gives us feedback on the results. If he shows gratitude, it means he is already fulfilled. We don’t have to help anymore. On the other hand, if he doesn’t, we have to try another way because it means our help doesn’t work for him.

We can judge it only by the emotion of gratitude. Joy or calm don’t always indicate satisfaction. He could be fulfilled and feel like doing the rest on his own, even if he still has heavy pain. Only gratitude tells us when to finish helping.

That would be the origin of the gratitude. It is part of helping weak people. That is why only empathic people can feel gratitude. And that is why others’ gratitude makes us, empathic people, happy.

The emotional culture created by empathy

That emotional work gave rise to other behavioral cultures.

For example, people with high empathy like to be grateful to each other. They often say, “Thank you,” even if it is the smallest kindness. It is because they can please each other with gratitude.

Perhaps people with low empathy began to imitate that. They came to think, “I have to say thank you to be seen as empathic,” although they don’t have the sense to feel gratitude.

Then, they began to turn it into a tool to obey them. The teaching, like “Be grateful to parents for giving birth to a healthy body,” is one of the examples. That is not gratitude. That is accusing, pretending to be consideration.

Wrong usage by less empathic people

We can find that people who say such things are less empathic because highly empathic people never say that. Empathic people know gratitude is feedback. Not what we demand.

In other words, less empathic people want to submit their children. However, they cannot say it directly, such as “Don’t argue. The children should be silent and obey the parent.” It will be judged as abuse, so they say, “Be grateful for me” instead of it. That allows them to control children’s behaviors if the children are highly empathic.

If we are confused by that, we will be mentally ill.

We don’t have to be grateful to others. Gratitude is a sense of having feedback.

We can find our direction in life with a sense of gratitude. If we head in the direction of more gratitude, we tend to have more mentally fulfilled lives. In other words, stop doing things we will never be pleased with, no matter how hard we try. Then, try finding a way we can be grateful for something. An appropriate way to use it is to use it as feedback.


Above is the origin and how to deal with the emotion of gratitude.

Gratitude is a sense for us empathic people to determine whether the person we have helped is satisfied. We use it for feedback.

This knowledge might help us feel pure gratitude and have a mentally fulfilled life.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope to see you in the next one.