Every once in a while I find a book that I know has a really important lesson for me. The Gratitude Effect by Dr John Demartini is one of those books.
It is also one of those books which we look at the title and think, “Yes, gratitude, that’s an important idea. I get it. I don’t need to read that book.”
These thoughts rolled through my head when I first saw it, but I picked it up because I’ve read other books by Dr Demartini and have found them to be very profound.
I knew after a few sentences that I had to read this book. So I did.
Dr Demartini puts forward the basic idea that the quality of our life goes up significantly if we cultivate the habit of appreciating life. The key of this book is the method he gives to make us grateful.
Most of us find it easy to appreciate the good things in life, but the area that needs the most attention is the things that we don’t appreciate – ie the things that are annoying and painful – past and present.
Dr Demartini’s method is to understand how we gain from our losses and vice versa.
His philosophy is that life is governed by a divine order and is always in balance. When we learn to see the ever-present harmony in the events of life, then we become harmonious too.
Our gains and losses are like the peaks and troughs of waves – they always occur side by side at the same time. The higher the peak the lower the trough. For example, Barack Obama gained the presidency and power of the world, but lost the freedom to walk down the street by himself.
Our tendency is to assume that we live in a world of polarity – that we are either grateful or ungrateful, appreciative or bitter. But Dr Demartini adds a different dimension to that spectrum. He says that the middle ground – the point of balance – is actually the point of gratitude, peace and true perspective.
If we only see one side of the equation then we lose true perspective and we either undervalue or overvalue what we see – either we are ungrateful or infatuated. The middle ground appreciates the whole spectrum.
Dr Demartini says that when we look at the lives of others and believe that they are better or worse off than us, then we are not truly appreciating the fullness and balance of life at that moment. If someone is gaining in life, they are also losing in some way to the same degree – everything comes at a price. Conversely, if someone appears to be losing, there is a simultaneous benefit there too.
It is up to us to find that balanced perspective and see the two sides of each situation. If we don’t find it, then we are engaging in a polarised (some would say illusory) point of view and it will further feelings of attachment and aversion. When we see that good and bad always appear together, then we are freed from running away from one and grasping at the other.
On the basis of this method of perception, we come to appreciate the whole of life rather than just one half of life.
I like to read practical books about how to increase one’s capacity to enjoy life. And my tendency is to read a book with full intention to do the prescribed exercises, but usually get caught up in the next book before getting a chance to do the exercises. However, this book is different for two reasons: 1) there is an easily achievable practical and valuable benefit 2) the method can be applied anywhere/anytime.
This is one book that I plan to keep around.