When it comes to having integrity of character, it all begins with gratitude
From a spiritual perspective, character is less about heeding the moral rules and more about our relationship with that undefinable something bigger. It’s about standing in awe of the gift we’ve been given. And it’s appreciating our inherent indebtedness. That’s what inspires gratitude.
Most of us regard the “golden rule” as a noble ideal but totally impractical guideline. So, we instead live by the principle of doing to others as we have judged that they deserve. And that, in a nutshell, is why our world is so full of conflict
Abusive relationship partners are often relentless. They hate to miss an opportunity to denigrate and dominate. And over time, their victims can begin to see themselves in the same negative way their abusers cast them.
Because we live in an era of unprecedented narcissistic entitlement, it’s harder than ever to see this precious life we enjoy for what it fundamentally is: an unearned gift.
The takers and users among us aren’t just arrested in their character development. They’re spiritually arrested, too. Humble gratitude for the gift of life is a linchpin of healthy character.
Thanksgiving means more than a single holiday. Responsible people render it daily in their undertakings. But in this age of rampant narcissism and entitlement, cultivating gratitude is difficult. So, far too few give thanks with their actions. Rather, they take, use, exploit, and injure – all for their own gratification. And they do such things without compunction because they feel entitled.
I have much for which to be grateful. Your validation and promotion of my work has always inspired and sustained me. It’s impossible to say how much such support means to me. So, from the bottom of my heart, “Thank you!”
Researchers now know the reason disturbed characters have a hard time developing a healthy sense of obligation. When you feel entitled, you simply can’t feel obliged. You have to feel indebted before you can feel obliged. And you have to be deeply grateful before you can feel indebted.
Culture and character have an intertwined and interdependent relationship. And they impact each other in some very dynamic ways. More character-impaired individuals now populate the culture. And they have “enabled” the erosion of principles once widely revered and promoted.
Egomaniacal thinkers attribute everything they’ve ever achieved solely to themselves and their greatness. To acknowledge any higher reality would only make them feel both dependent and indebted. The haughty among us want no part of that.