The Problem With Gratitude

“[A man’s] emotions are not his enemies, they are his means of enjoying life. But they are not his guide; the guide is his mind. This relationship cannot be reversed, however. If a man takes his emotions as the cause and his mind as their passive effect, if he is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow—then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction—his own and that of others.” ~Ayn Rand, Playboy, March 1964


Social media is awash with millions of people shouting the virtues of gratitude at the top of their lungs. Selfies with pseudo-philosophical quotes in a handwritten font abound. Proponents of gratitude say the benefits are a magic bullet that kills depression & unhappiness.

Take this quote from a website Happify: “The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

Sounds pretty good, right?

So what’s so bad about gratitude?

It’s emotional masturbation.

Gratitude is an emotion. It’s a feeling. It tells you absolutely nothing about why you’re feeling that way.

In fact, gratitude can keep you in dangerous situations.

“I know he beats me, but at least I have a roof over my head. I’m grateful for that much.”

Inciting an emotional response in an effort to trick yourself into believing things are better than they are is a cancer of your mind. This is what condemns you to living a life of misery and torture.

Gratitude makes you a sycophant.

Synonyms: yes-man, bootlicker, brown-noser, toady, lickspittle, flatterer, flunky, lackey, spaniel, doormat, stooge, cringer, suck, suck-up
“I thought you wanted a competent assistant, not a nodding sycophant”

Does that sound like the person you want to be?

Fuck no.

Now, am I saying you should never feel happiness? That there’s nothing to enjoy?

Absolutely not.

So, what’s the alternative to gratitude, if gratitude is so poisonous?


It’s a small change in language, but a huge shift in mindset.

Appreciation is the intellectual practice of appraising value. Of identifying worth. Of recognizing & understanding something or someone.

Appreciation is the application of reason to expose a lesson that can teach you something.

This is why appreciation has the secondary definition of “to increase in value.

That happens as the natural byproduct of something or someone having worth.


“ad” in late Latin means “to,” and “pretium” means “price.”

Put them together and you get “appretiare” meaning to set at a price, to appraise.

Appreciation is the logical evaluation of every situation, idea, moment, person, action, consequence, etc for its value & worth.

This is the process of recognizing everything for what is & is not worth your time & investment.

Appreciate everything that is given to you. Appreciate everything that is taken from you. Appreciate everything.

The Difference

Gratitude is the dominance of emotion over reason which is a recipe for disaster. Appreciation is the application of reason to evaluate worth.

Fill your heart with gratitude and die.

Fill your mind with appreciation and live.

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