DIRECTIONS for the question: Read the passage and answer the question based on it.
Consider these recent headlines: “Want to be Happier? Be More Grateful,” “The Formula for Happiness: Gratitude Plays a Part,” “Teaching Gratitude, Bringing Happiness to Children,” and my personal favorite “Key to Happiness is Gratitude, and Men May be Locked Out.”
Buoyed by research findings from the field of positive psychology, the happiness industry is alive and flourishing in America. Each of these headlines includes the explicit assumption that gratitude should be part of any 12-step, 30-day, or 10-key program to develop happiness. But how does this bear on the question toward which this essay is directed? Is gratitude queen of the virtues? In modern times gratitude has become untethered from its moral moorings and collectively, we are worse off because of this. When the Roman philosopher Cicero stated that gratitude was the queen of the virtues, he most assuredly did not mean that gratitude was merely a stepping-stone toward personal happiness. Gratitude is a morally complex disposition, and reducing this virtue to a technique or strategy to improve one’s mood is to do it an injustice.
Even restricting gratitude to an inner feeling is insufficient. In the history of ideas, gratitude is considered an action (returning a favor) that is not only virtuous in and of itself, but valuable to society. To reciprocate is the right thing to do. “There is no duty more indispensable that that of returning a kindness” wrote Cicero in a book whose title translates “On Duties.” Cicero’s contemporary, Seneca, maintained that “He who receives a benefit with gratitude repays the first installment on his debt.” Neither believed that the emotion felt in a person returning a favor was particularly crucial. Conversely, across time, ingratitude has been treated as a serious vice, a greater vice than gratitude is a virtue. Ingratitude is the “essence of vileness,” wrote the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant while David Hume opined that ingratitude is “the most horrible and unnatural crime that a person is capable of committing.”
Gratitude does matter for happiness. As someone who for the past decade has contributed to the scientific literature on gratitude and well-being, I would certainly grant that. The tools and techniques of modern science have been brought to bear on understanding the nature of gratitude and why it is important for human flourishing more generally. From childhood to old age, accumulating evidence documents the wide array of psychological, physical, and relational benefits associated with gratitude. Yet I have come to the realization that by taking a “gratitude lite” approach we have cheapened gratitude. Gratitude is important not only because it helps people feel good, but also because it inspires them to do good. Gratitude heals, energizes, and transforms lives in a myriad of ways consistent with the notion that virtue is both its own reward and produces other rewards.
To give a flavor of these research findings, dispositional gratitude has been found to be positively associated qualities such as empathy, forgiveness, and the willingness to help others. For example, people who rated themselves as having a grateful disposition perceived themselves as having more prosocial characteristics, expressed by their empathetic behavior, and emotional support for friends within the last month. When people report feeling grateful, thankful, and appreciative in studies of daily experience, they also feel more loving, forgiving, joyful, and enthusiastic. Notably, the family, friends, partners and others that surround them consistently report that people who practice gratitude are viewed as more helpful, more outgoing, more optimistic, and more trustworthy. On a larger level, gratitude is the adhesive that binds members of society together. Gratitude is the “moral memory of mankind” wrote noted sociologist Georg Simmel.
Q. As per the context of the passage, identify the correct statements:
I. According to the author, the happiness industry has over-used the concept of gratitude for its own benefit.
II. According to Cicero, gratitude induces a feeling of debt in the benefactor.
III. The rewards obtained from gratitude cannot be limited to one sphere of human life.