Some of you may have heard the story of a hunter who lost his way in the forest. After a few days without food, the famished man spotted a solitary apple tree. His joy knew no bounds as he plucked a few of the apples from the tree. He went down on his knees and thanked God profusely. He gobbled the first juicy apple and went on eating apple after apple. But after the first few apples, his joy began to diminish, and when he came to the tenth apple he felt frustrated at having only apples to eat. The tenth apple was as tasty as the first one. But the hunter was fed up of too much of a good thing. He failed to appreciate that the apples were keeping him alive and giving him the strength to find a way out of the forest. His joy went on decreasing with each apple. This behaviour is known as the law of diminishing marginal utility; but in fact it denotes diminishing gratitude when we take things for granted.
You may enjoy a tasty dish cooked with love by your mother the first few times. But if she repeats the same dish often, it begins to lose its charm. Imagine being stuck on an island which has a sufficient variety of fruits to eat. Then you are not going to get bored of the “tenth apple”. You love reading and you have only your favourite novel with you. Boredom sets in and you cease to appreciate the book. Similarly, during the present pandemic, we realize that we are lucky to have a roof over our heads and food at our table; but after a point, we only see the negatives. You start thinking, “If only I could go out and meet my friends” or “I am missing movies and my favourite chat.”
Cicero called gratitude “The mother of all human feelings.” Gratitude is a stress buster. It regulates emotions, fosters happiness and hope, and reduces anxiety. When gratitude becomes a habit, our body releases serotonin and dopamine which makes us feel good. We become more positive as we shift our focus from problems to solutions. We are better able to accept situations that we cannot change.