Love is not primarily about how another makes us feel or what he or she does for us; it’s about how we show up to a relationship and treat another human being—gratefully or ungratefully; as someone valuable—nay, invaluable and priceless to us; or as someone expendable and fairly easily replaceable. When we truly love another, that person is essential to us, that person is real—as essential and real as we are to ourselves—and we show it through, among other things, our warmth, affection, kindness, decency, self-control, and our gratitude. Love is about loving; it’s a verb; it’s about the ways in which we choose to extend ourselves for our own and the other’s growth in goodness and real happiness.
An intimate relationship cannot survive and thrive for long if there is not a deep and pervading sense of gratitude between each for the other—and for life. Without mutual gratitude, a relationship may survive, it may linger and limp along, but it will not thrive; one or both of the persons in it will be too susceptible to unhappiness, to taking the other and life for granted—and thus to bickering, resentment, pettiness, whining, self-centeredness—things that show that we have lost perspective, the bigger picture, and that we are taking life and the other person for granted and that we’re sweating the little stuff.
Without the capacity to be grateful, a person is much less likely to see the other person as real, as a real person, as an end in themselves, and not as a prop or a tool or an extension of oneself, one’s ego, as someone who is there to emotionally and physically take care of us and feed and provide for the self.
Gratitude—a sense of genuine appreciation and thankfulness—for life, for each other, and for having found each other in this big crazy world, is what allows two people to love and respect and genuinely care for and about each other.
Know gratitude, know love; no gratitude, no love. It’s that simple. When we’re truly grateful for another person, we are much more likely to love the other person and show it. But when we’re ungrateful, we’re much more likely to complain and whine, be bitter and resentful because we’re lost–because we’ve lost perspective.
“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth—and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up—that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
“Gratefulness is the key to a much happier life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy—because we will always want to have something else or something more.” – David Steindl-Rast
“One regret, dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my deathbed is that I did not kiss you enough.” – Hafiz
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” – Cicero
“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether we take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” – G. K. Chesterton
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
“Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.” – Alfred Painter
“The happiest people are not those getting more but those giving more.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
“The hardest arithmetic to master is the one which enables us to count our blessings.” – Eric Hoffer
“Good people and bad people differ radically. Bad people never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise people appreciate and are grateful. Wise men and women try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else.” – Buddha