Should We Be Grateful?

Wilson Iyorah


Copyright 2019 by Wilaon Iyorah  

Photo of dawn over a lake.  (c) 2007 by Richard Loller.


This essay emphasizes the need to be grateful at all time. It discusses the great benefits practicing gratefulness at all time. 

I remembered asking a wise old man down our street what it means to be really grateful, he paused for a while then he told me this story to illustrate what it means to be grateful;

Once upon a time, there live a very rich man in a city, he had so much to eat to the extent that he had so much to dispose and waste. One day, he was taking a walk round his big mansion and he looked out to the streets and sighted a very poor man in tattered clothes scavenging the dump where he disposed his leftovers and the poor man was gnawing with relish at the every bits of food he could find. The Rich man watched the poor man for a while then he shook his head and looked into the sky and muttered “I am grateful that I am not a poor man”

As the poor man was enjoying the bits of food from the dumps, a lunatic man without clothes sped past him, as the poor man watched the fleeing mad man, he sighed and said “ well, I may be poor, I am grateful I am not a lunatic” then he continued scavenging the dump.

As the lunatic was running speedily, he sighted a well-dressed man with no legs being wheeled away on a wheelchair, the lunatic took in the scene then he stared at his own legs with which he had been running then he laughed and said “oh, I have legs, I am grateful for my legs!” then he started running again.

As the man with no legs was being wheeled toward the hospital, there was a loud siren of ambulances approaching the hospital, the ambulances stop then corpses, some of them burnt beyond recognition, were being conveyed from the ambulances to the hospital morgue.

The man who had always been gloomy and whining about his condition reflected deeply at the scene in front of him then he sighed saying ” I don’t have legs but at least, I am still alive, what use will be my legs if I’m dead? I am grateful”

That experience was life-changing for the man, then he was always happy since then.

No matter the situation we find ourselves,” continued the old man, ”we should always strive to be grateful because there must be something to be grateful for” then the old man concluded, “ Don’t let ingratitude rob you of life’s happiness”

Being grateful means to show gratitude and gratitude is coined from the Latin word ‘gratia’ means thankfulness, showing appreciation, acknowledging what others have done for it. Many people see gratitude as just an action but gratitude can also be an emotion, as an emotion, gratitude is a feeling of happiness that comes from appreciation.

In the course of me writing this essay, I will write about these few questions that has to do with gratitude and these questions will help give real meaning to the word ”gratitude” and these questions are; What should we be grateful for? Are we grateful? Should we be grateful if our lives are in mess? Now, let us take a look at this question;

Should we be grateful?

The answer is absolutely yes!

We should be grateful because being grateful pose a lot of benefits to us as humans and some of these benefits are;

  1. Being grateful makes you happier!

Dr. Robert Emmons who has been studying gratitude for the past years up to 10 years is considered by many people to be the world leading authority on gratitude and he also the author of the Book; Thanks! How the new science of gratitude can make you happier.

The information in the book is based on the research involving thousands of people conducted by a number of different researchers and most of the studies revealed that practicing gratitude increase happiness level as it creates positive emotions which can undo the grip of negative emotions in our lives, negative emotions like anxiety, discontentment, depression thus making us to feel happy. In addition, it helps us to notice what is already good in our lives instead of focusing on what is bad and this creates happiness.

  1. Being grateful improves self-esteem

Rather than being resentful toward people who have more money or who are more successful-a major factor in low self-esteem, grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishment.

  1. Being grateful makes us more creative and optimistic

Research by Dr, Emmons showed that people who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back from adversity and look on the better side of life than those who do not practice gratitude, he further pointed out that to say we feel gratitude is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great, it means we are aware of ours blessing.

What should we be grateful for?

The internet!

I remember some time ago, when I was taking a walk home; I noticed a crowd of people gathered at the house of a friend. Sensing something was wrong, I rushed to find out what it was, only to find of that my friend’s younger brother was bitten by a snake and he was shrieking and wailing in pain, the nearest clinic was many kilometres away, so something urgent need to be done to save his life as I knew it would very dangerous the more the delay.

Then, an idea flashed through my mind, to search for first aid and quick remedies for snake bites on the internet! I immediately took out my phone and surf the internet for remedies. In seconds, I had all the information I wanted, and luckily again, the home-made quick remedies were readily available. The first aid was administered to the boy and in minutes, to the relief to everyone present, the boy’s shrieking stopped and he was relieved of the pain. A paramedic later came by to give final treatment to the boy. The boy’s parent were very happy and they also expressed their gratitude to me for helping to save the boy but deep down inside me, I was very grateful for the internet that provided in minutes, the remedies. The internet which we are enjoying today, which is of immense benefits to us, was not readily available 50 years ago and we should be very grateful for it!


Another thing we should be grateful for is technology. The supersonic computers, the super-fast trains, drones, sending messages to our loved ones so far away from us in a split second........ No doubt, technology has made life easier and is making life easier for us. Most times, we do things with ease, complete arduous tasks easily with the help of technology without giving it a thought what such tasks had been like for people who had lived 100 years before our time. These people who had lived very long before us did not enjoy the privileges we are freely enjoying today. Now, let us imagine what it will be like with the absence of these technologies. We should be grateful for technology! We should also be grateful for those who had made it possible with their great innovations that have helped change the world.

Our Lives

Another thing we should be grateful for is our lives and no matter how we think about it, it is a gift. Thousands of people all over the world didn’t get the chance to make it, many people are dying by the second..... But we are here today alive, no matter how difficult our lives are, we should be grateful for it because as long as there is life, there is hope for greater things as no condition in life is permanent! So whenever we wake up, we should always express our gratitude for the gift of life.

We should be grateful for family and friends that are all around us especially the good ones who are always with us through thick and thin, those who shares our burdens, ease our pains, love us unconditionally, those who are always there for us, watching our backs, those who also offer us good advices. They add colour to our lives and they shouldn’t be taken for granted. Let us for once imagine what our lives will be like if we don’t have these set of people.

We should learn to be grateful for all these aforementioned things. Most times, we tend to take for granted the things we should be grateful for in our lives let us sometimes imagine what our lives will look like if we lose what we have been taking for granted.

Should we be grateful if our lives are in mess?

To a businessman who is having a very bad year in his business or an investor who recently lost heavily in an investment, the idea of being grateful may be very far from them. Yes, I agree it is very difficult to be grateful when things are not going the right way, when our lives are in mess. Okay, let us assume we keep on failing and failing at an endeavour, what we will mostly feel is resentments, anger, frustration not gratitude.

So then, should we be grateful if our lives are in mess? The answer is yes. Why?

There is a saying and it is a fact, that no matter how miserable or mess our lives may be, there must be something to be grateful for, for example, the businessman that is having a very bad year in his business should be grateful for the gift of life because as long as there is life, there is hope for better things to come and the world history is filled with stories of great businessmen and women who had suffered same serious setbacks in their businesses only to be very successful later in their lives e.g. the Abraham Lincolns, the Thomas Edisons, the Walt Disneys..... So therefore, he should be grateful that he is alive and that as long as he is alive, he is not doomed forever.

To cite another example, an investor who lost heavily in an investment should be grateful for the lessons learnt. Most times, failures present to us lessons that can make us wiser so as not to repeat the same mistakes that will create more failures. The lessons an investor gain from losing a lot of money will contribute a lot to his knowledge base. As I have stated earlier on, there exist something to be grateful for, despite the mess our lives are in. Therefore, we should be grateful if our lives are in mess.

Am I grateful?

It took me very long to know how to be grateful. For a very long time, I found it very difficult to be grateful because I had always overlooked the good things in my life to be grateful for, focusing more on the things that were lacking in my life and as a result, I was always unhappy.

Then one day, recognizing the need to live a happier life, I got rid of ingratitude, eliminating it from my life and I started embracing gratitude and the result was that I started living a happier life. I also had a boost in my self-esteem and stopped comparing myself to others, being grateful for who I am.

To make sure that I never stop being grateful, I keep a gratitude journal where I make a list of things I am very grateful for, this concept made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude” has gone a long way in making me to be grateful always.

There is no doubt that being grateful has its own loads of benefits, you have nothing to lose but so much more to gain for being grateful! You will be healthier, you will be happier and many more. Are you grateful person? If you are not, try to be! I will conclude with a quote from Zig Ziglar;

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have more to express gratitude for.”

Wilson Iyorah is a Nigerian writer, journalist  who lives in Lagos Nigeria.  He loves reading and travelling. 

His first book titled "Splinted hearts " was published in February 2019.

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