Dale Carnegie tells us in Chapter 14 of, “How To Stop Worrying And Start Living,” that it is human nature for people not to show gratitude for what they get from other people. If parents want their children to show appreciation for the things their parents and other people do for them then their children must be taught by them on how to do this. Basically what Dale is saying here is that having gratitude is an acquired behavior and not a natural one.
“Now,” if you are a parent reading this; keep in mind that teaching a child to be thankful is not harming them emotionally in any way. It is merely teaching them that the good in life should never be taken for granted. Some would call it teaching them that, “They are not owed a living by the world,” or that what they have is not out of entitlement.
Teaching children to be grateful is not the same as teaching them to feel inferior or unworthy of what they have been given and had done for them. Gratitude is merely a feeling of thanks; otherwise known as gladness, joy, or happiness for something that has happened.
However, it would appear in this day and age that many grown up people confuse having feelings of gratitude with indebtedness. But who likes to feel like they are constantly in debt? Yet, when you look up the meaning of debt, which is defined as having committed a sin or trespass, owing something to someone, borrowing, and terms along those lines (depending upon which dictionary you look debt up in); you can see that it is quite different from the meaning of gratitude.
Mr. Carnegie tells us that we can avoid being upset by ingratitude by not expecting people to be thankful to us. If we do the things for people that we want to do for them then we don’t need to hear their thanks. If you save someone’s life and they don’t thank you for it are you going to kill them? Of course not! You saved their life because you felt it was the right thing to do. You did it out of a sense of humanity.
On 9/11/2001 God only knows how many people from around the country descended upon the City of New York to help after the twin towers fell. This is not in Dale Carnegie’s book. But it goes along with his text in this chapter because it is a perfect example of people helping people without expecting anything whatsoever in return. Many of them to this day were probably never formally thanked for what they did in the days and weeks after September 11, 2001 and nor did they seek recognition for their efforts. They were there because they wanted to be there. They weren’t ordered there. They came on their own. Those that couldn’t be there were helping in other ways; sending money to family’s affected by the attack, canned goods, etcetera, because they wanted to. If they were lucky they may have gotten a thank you letter in the mail for their donations, telling them that they should keep it on record for tax purposes at the end of the year. But most people who did what they could in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 did it out of caring and in the spirit of love.
So, yeah, if you are doing the things that you want to do for people out of love or for the joy of doing it, you are better off emotionally. If you are doing things for other people because you are looking for attention or are looking for something in return, praying upon someone in other words, because you expect them to have a sense of obligation or indebtedness to you, well…. A lot of the time you are going to find out, if you haven’t already, that your frustration level is just going to continue to rise, as Dale Carnegie more or less explains in this chapter.
So, the best you can do when it comes to dealing with ingratitude is to expect it, do what you do for others because you want to and try your best to remember that showing gratitude is something that is an acquired trait. If you keep these things in mind you’ll be in a much happier place!