Is there such a thing as “good debt?” Yes, there is! The debt we owe to society, and to each other. The debt to be kind, the debt to be supportive to our fellow human beings, the debt to be environmental conscious, the debt to express gratitude in our daily lives, the debt to share the best of ourselves with one another.
By making our interactions with people more heartfelt, so their aptitude for gratitude grows, it can lead to a society where the norm is an outward pouring of kindness to the people we encounter. Not one where we use our debt to enhance the perception of our own social status. For example, I recall a time when I decided to only prepare meals that I could finish, thereby limiting my waste, since, while I lived in plenty, there were others who went hungry on any given day. This act led to seeing myself as a more productive member of society. Yet, I knew I could do more, and I asked, “how do I go beyond myself and ensure I am reaching out and touching others?”
In his article, “Is Gratitude a Moral Virtue,” David Carr states it best — “gratitude is a human quality that all good parents should want their children to possess or exhibit – not merely for the instrumental or utilitarian end that they might thereby be more socially popular or acceptable, but because they may also be more exemplary human beings.” To be exemplary means to serve as a model for others to imitate. When we are grateful, we should do good for others, and be a living example that encourages others to do the same.
We have to ensure that we show gratitude out of the kindness of our being, an overflowing that spills outward, and not something where we simply check a box next to, “I did a good deed today.” And I believe that, in paying the gratitude debt forward, we spread kindness in the truest form — a kindness where we are not looking for anything in return, but a genuine act of giving freely and anonymously.