Looking at gratitude in tribal living, our natural way of life. It’s better to receive gratitude than to give it, so it’s better to give than to receive.
Living in gratitude, being grateful for all we have, is often offered as a spiritual path all by itself. In our early evolutionary history, when all humans lived in tribes, earning the gratitude of others, was probably much more important. People who are kind to others earn not only their short-term appreciation, but also their long-term respect and admiration.
Women who supported others with food, council, friendship, and support in times of grief or fear would have had more help and support in taking care of their children. Men who helped others to hunt, provided food, and spoke well of them would have had a better chance of becoming a respected member of tribal councils, and may have qualified to be the chief.
The idea of “living in gratitude” would not have occurred to our earliest ancestors. Instead, they would probably have thought about how to gain the gratitude of other people. Many tribal peoples believe that whatever helps one person helps the whole tribe; that all people benefit when one person receives the help and support they need. A person who is overwhelmed with grief, worry, or pain can be less effective in gathering food, communal work, or in finding the right mood for a ceremony. Helping them come back to the state of mind they need to truly be a part of their society helps the whole tribe to stay integrated. Kindness is an essential survival skill. Compassion and empathy are two of the building blocks of survival for human beings.
The need to keep the tribe together, and avoid conflicts and disputes meant that anyone who had the personality to spread kindness, to earn the gratitude of others, would have been a precious jewel to their people.
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