According to the dictionary the word ‘gratitude,’ is synonymous with Turkish words such as minnet, minnettarlık and şükran. For some reason the Turkish word minnet sounds a bit melodramatic to me. Isn’t the verb minnet etmek (to plead) always used in negative contexts? There’s a side to it that reminds one of Wheel of Fortune contestants who plead until they win the grand prize. Either way, the Turkish Language Association states that the definition of minnet  (gratitude) is feeling indebted because of a favor. As for şükran, it’s defined as knowledge of kindness, a debt of gratitude, and a blessing.

I don’t quite comprehend how a kind act transforms into a debt. Isn’t a good deed synonymous with selflessness and acceptance instead of indebtedness? I think the closest translation for gratitude in Turkish is şükran. To interpret the newly trending and popular concept of gratitude in terms of Turkish culture, it’s a better idea to use the limitless world of philosophy and literature rather than the constrained nature of the Turkish language.

Let’s give heed to the words of Mevlana: “Gratitude is the wine of the soul. Let ourselves become inebriated.” When we begin with kindness and goodness, drinking from this particular wine is an easy tactic. Just a few steps forward, the ideal of feeling gratitude, no mater what life places in our way, as well as selflessness, acceptance, and trust without judgment, invite us to their realm.  It tells us as that things are as they need to be. That what exists, is its best form. It may not appear so to us today. But allowing things to exist as they are allows our life path to remain open to all kinds of possibilities.

There’s truly a soul-inebriating force in feeling gratitude for positive occurrences in our lives, or any occurrences at all. When we voice our gratitude through a small thank you, a note, or perhaps with a song or a photo, the path from us to the receiver is suddenly studded with stars as if from a magic wand. More gratitude, more stars glittering in the heavens. Softening hearts, bringing light to darkness, presenting us with the most divine reason to live. Even if it’s for a short while, we borrow a vision that’s in love with the world. We see our surroundings with an inebriated gaze of an entirely different sort.

There’s a lot we can do to train our gratitude-muscle. But if you’re interested, I suggest you begin with Mevlana. Sadly he is not a topic of interest in our cultural institutions. The fact that Mevlana’s (Rumi’s) greatest work is available in English is an ironic bit of evidence that speaks of our reluctance to feel gratitude for the father of kindness, a philosopher of the heart who is regarded so highly around the world. But perhaps even this has a valid reason…



Translated by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

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