It's been a while since I tackled one of the Delphic Maxims. Today I wanted to talk a little about Delphic Maxim number 106: be grateful (Ευγνωμων γινου). Gratitude is getting pretty hard to come by in this day and age. It requires the ability to regard the actions of another in such a way that you let go of your own preconceptions and desires.

As humans, we tend to want things, lots of things. Yesterday, I was looking at a video of 'The Marshmallow Experiment' on Youtube. It went a little like this: a child of a relatively young age, was sat down in a chair in front of a table and given a marshmallow on a plate. He or she was then told that, if he or she did not eat the marshmallow before the tester came back, the child would get a second marshmallow, and would be allowed to eat both. If the child ate the marshmallow, he or she would only have gotten two. What followed next were twenty excruciating minutes of children trying their hardest (usually, some gave in right away and ate the one marshmallow) not to eat the marshmallow. It's an exercise in delayed gratification. Here's one of the videos I watched, because it's pretty darn cute.

The point is: we want things. In the core of our being, our Id is running around like the little Sultana monster (I'm now realizing that might be a Dutch thing, but go with it), looking for food, shelter, love, stability, riches... whichever you desire the most. Somewhere along the way, the desire to have something might start to overrule our social graces; we become entitled. Because of our histories, our brains, our money, our place in the hierarchy, we are entitled to certain things other might not have or ever get. Because we're better, or wiser, or prettier, or whatever. We start to place ourself above others and are no longer grateful for the things we have and get, because we feel we deserve them for some reason.

This maxim asks us to remember that we are entitled to nothing, beyond what our thoughtful actions provide for us. What we do get--within that measure but especially outside of it--needs to be accepted in gratitude. This maxim ties in with kharis, xenia, most of the pillars of Hellenismos. It relates to mankind, just as it does the Theoi. What we receive from Them is valuable, and should be acknowledged as such. It's why we give sacrifice and votive offerings; we realize that fortune, as well as misery, comes from the Gods. 

So here is a reminder: to look about your life and see if you are grateful enough for what you're getting, either from your loved ones, your acquaintances, your enemies and--above all--the Theoi. Never become entitled. Especially towards the Theoi, it leads to hubris, and the Gods do not reward that kindly.