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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History on the Side of Gratitude, March 20 2009
This review is from: Gift of Thanks (Hardcover)
Here's one very helpful discussion on the importance of gratitude or thankfulness in society. Visser, who has a background in the classics, makes a powerful argument in defense of the practice of gratitude. For her being grateful forms a major underpinning of our civilization. In this study, she traces the history of numerous conventions associated with being thankful and how they help to expand our potential for goodness as a human race. She believes that the expression of thanks as an inner appreciation of indebtedness to others can bring people together in greater harmony. In this world of growing self-centeredness and narcissism, the very civility of saying thank-you might seem to be irrelevant. But Visser quickly reminds us that nothing could be further from the truth. Sociologically, acknowledgement of kindness and deference to wisdom in others is such a vital gift that all we need is a gentle reminder - such as found in this book - to use it to our advantage. As Visser shows, thankfulness, if expressed thoughtfully, can be viewed as an exquisite art form that is anything but trite. What I found most useful about Visser's evaluation of the subject is the way she broke it down: The first part deals with how pervasive gratitude has really become in the world; the second looks at particular expressions resulting from gratitude such as reciprocation, public recognition and charitable acts; the third area explores the historical and cultural backgrounds associated with the above expressions as they pertain to social institutions like family, church, school,parents, business, frienships and government; finally, she concludes with a look at the challenges we face in order to better appreciate this tremendous gift we've inherited from earlier generations. Problems like understanding our emotions in the context of our human development, dealing with treachery and greed as counter forces, and appreciating the true nature of custom all stand in the way of us becoming an even more grateful civilization. To that end, Visser carefully educates her readers to better grasp the greater fulfillment of this critical concept. The book is well-researched and full of fascinating details to back up her thesis
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Ian Gordon Malcomson
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Location: Victoria, BC

Top Reviewer Ranking: 12