Ans: Joy is an expression of happiness, satisfaction, content, thankfulness and freedom. Gratitude is the quality of being ready to appreciate and being thankful for the same. Ideally, joy should be the simplest form of gratitude but practically we do not express joy as gratitude very easily.
Factors like greed, jealousy, competition, ego, immaturity, selfishness are few of the villains in human life that do not let us express joy as gratitude easily. Humans have never been content and are always in competition for fulfilling ever growing greedy needs. Life on planet earth initiated with very basic survival requirements and natural death and gratitude. Humans earlier feared death by wildlife or natural calamities, they used to stay together as they knew if they wouldn’t stay in a group they will easily become food for wildlife. But with evolution and gain of knowledge also developed villain like factors, eventually making survival requirement ultimate goal by compromising humanity. Today, we hear news from all over the planet about how humans kill each other through terrorism, murder, exploitation etc and the reasons behind these activities is some or the other form of greed, jealousy, selfishness, competition or immaturity.
The best example is of suicide, it is the inability of humans to express joy as gratitude that leads one to commit suicide. In India there is female infanticide, the superstitious myth that a girl child born is not going to be of any boon to the family and performing infanticide of that child clearly shows that joy is not expressed as gratitude. Child labour, baby dropping, dowry etc still prominent in many rural and urban areas of India – Are any of these practices a way to express gratitude? We have only been exploiting our own human race since ages by imposing on us these unfavourable rituals in the fear of God or religion or at times pure selfishness. On the daily routine basis not being helpful to others, not saying Thank You for every time you are helped even for smallest possible reason, not being sorry for hurting or committing mistakes, not smiling back as a greeting gesture are few other examples for not expressing gratitude and not being joyful of our very own existence as well as that of others.
Gratitude lifts, it brings to joy. And what as we age, do we cherish and savour more than joy? Pleasure, power, fame, lust, money – they eventually lose their fastballs or should at our very best and wisest we just want joy and when we are filled with gratitude we see rich thick joy in the simplest of things, joy everywhere. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice, one can choose to be grateful even when one’s emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which one can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. A very good quote by Roger Ebert says that “ I was perfectly content before I was born and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. I believe, that if at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves; a little happier, that is about the best we can do.”