The Courage to Face Ingratitude XIII

We must ever tower high above dependence on human gratitude or we can do nothing really great, nothing truly noble. The expectation of gratitude is the alloy of an otherwise virtuous act. It ever dulls the edge of even our best actions. Most persons look at gratitude as a protective tariff on virtues. The man who is weakened in well-doing by the ingratitude of others, is serving God on a salary basis. He is a hired soldier, not a volunteer. He should be honest enough to see that he is working for a reward; like a child, he is being good for a bonus. He is really regarding his kindness and his other expressions of goodness as moral stock he is willing to hold only so long as they pay dividends.

There is in such living always a touch of the pose; it is waiting for the applause of the gallery. We must let the consciousness of doing right, of living up to our ideals, be our reward and stimulus, or life will become to us but a series of failures, sorrows and disappointments.” ~ William George Jordan

If there is one goal to which all could usefully orient it is this: mens sibi conscia recti (“a mind conscious of right”). Where this is the case, and where the heart is caught up unto all that is noble, generous and fine, you begin to work in concert with the principles and laws which govern the universe, rather than constantly struggling against them. You move with the creative impulses that animate and have the potential to coordinate all creative activity, rather than being battered by them.

He who possesses a mind conscious of right is unconcerned, but fully aware of how what he does is received by those around him. He refrains from judging his observations and reacting to his judgments, for he knows that reaction and judgment “dulls the edge of even [his] best actions.” He weighs carefully that which he observes and then carefully, meticulously adjusts his approach so that it has the best chance of overcoming the wall of ingratitude and of being received the next go around, if there is one.

When you possess a mind conscious of right and a pure heart, you are unconcerned with results, for you are at rest knowing that you have done your part. That said, you never forget that your fulfillment in living depends upon your ability to assist others to their fulfillment. Your fulfillment rarely comes from acting in a way that others get their “just desserts” or that they feel the full brunt of “what they had coming to them.” This may be a course of last resort, but typically speaking you find yourself absorbing the impact of the hammer as it drops on those within your field of responsibility.

Mens sibi conscia recti is the motto of those who seek to live an uncommon life. The consciousness of doing right will guide you in all matters, and you build that consciousness piece-by-piece, as you prove yourself capable of taking the high road in your conversations, in the little things you do that no one sees, as well as in the large matters that play out on the canvas of your life.

If you want to know where to start, take a moment to read one of my previous posts in addition to the current one each day. Note the central point that stands out to you. Write it down if that helps. Most importantly, prove its veracity in your living. If your life is like mine, there will be no shortage of opportunities to make a decision that will make a difference!

8 thoughts on “The Courage to Face Ingratitude XIII

  1. DeeDee Miller

    Wonderful advice to add a previous post to each day’s reading. I have many favorites that I like to go back to, but honestly any one of your previous posts could stand to be read with new eyes. There are amazing things to be mined from them.


  2. Kai Newell

    Mens sibi conscia recti + a pure heart = the formula for a life worth living. Something I’ll definitely share with my students. Thank you for this post!


  3. Colin

    I think that this is a quality that is sorely lacking in the world. It is just not a quality that is taught very often. Not to say that people are not concerned with right or wrong, but it is usually a caricature of this that is soured and skewed by judgement. It turns quickly from being concerned with what “I” am doing right to making sure that “they” aren’t doing anything wrong. I think anyone who has been reading this blog for any amount of time can see why this would be counterproductive.
    I am looking to live an uncommon life, but I am also looking to make the uncommon life of today be the common life of tomorrow. The only way to do that is to live the uncommon lives ourselves, first.


  4. Ricardo B.

    Yes, it is proper to step in and intervene where it is fitting as it relates to the lives of others around you. That’s obvious if you are a consultant in your line of work, but less so when it comes to situations where there’s not a clear agreement between the two parties involved. I’m not talking about being a loudmouth and impulsively pointing out people’s mishaps, but taking the time to quietly notice these things and seeing if your input can help circumvent a bigger tragedy were you not to step in, but in a way that still retains the lessons involved for the person. This is such an art and a skill to act in a way that doesn’t over or under do your action. The genuine concern to be of help to assist in the fulfillment of that person is the guiding energy to refine that skill I suppose.
    Excellent point to consider every single day!


  5. MMc

    This is a practical way to approach life. If our overall inclination is guided by the highest in our nature and a heart that’s drawn to assist others the journey will be fulfilling and the result will be the sum of them. Wonderful post, thank you!


  6. Lady Leo

    William Jordan’s characterization of working for God on a salary basis is vivid. Being guided by a mind conscious of right takes the “what’s in it for me” out of the equation, this opens the way for the unimagined participation by Omnipotence. There are laws that govern creation and I think gratitude may be the basic one that activates participation.


  7. TW

    I read yesterday’s post outputs to two of my daughters. I look forward to reading and applying these everyday. To be able to provide the framework of the principles you and Jordan outline to my young daughters gives me hope for their future and their impact on the world Thank you!!!


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