“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” (Meister Eckhart)
It’s all too easy to overlook gratitude as we rush from one meeting or holiday party to the next, one obligation to another, or when we find ourselves mired in dispiriting stories of social inequity and political corruption. Gratitude is a quiet emotion and ours is a very loud world.
But gratitude is the perfect prescription for when we are feeling the stresses of daily life and overwhelmed by the magnitude of ills befalling our planet. That’s the time to take a healthy dose of gratitude.
Think about the side-effects of gratitude:
It opens us to abundance. When we see how much there is to be thankful for, we also see how much we have. Instead of feeling that we need to acquire more material possessions, or that we need to be more than we are, we see that we have enough and we are enough. That awareness of abundance inspires our kindness and our generosity.
It reverses negative emotions. If I am feeling grateful, I am not bothered by the driver who cuts me off in traffic, the sharp words of my frazzled colleague, or the clueless shopper blocking the aisle at the grocery store. I see those things for the minor inconveniences that they are.
Gratitude generates resilience. At those times when we are flattened by grief or sadness, it is often gratitude that reminds us that light follows darkness. We are grateful for the people who offer us their hand or a few kind words. And we are thankful for those who stand for morality, who step in to help, who remind us that integrity and decency will prevail.
It makes us activists. If we are grateful for our surroundings—oceans, rivers, trees, and mountains—we want to protect them and we stand up to those who threaten the natural world. Likewise, we make choices that protect and sustain the planet. That sense of connectedness gratitude gives us inspires both service and reverence.
When I am in touch with my gratitude, kindness flows naturally and effortlessly. At those times when kindness feels hard to summon, if I tap into my gratitude for my friends and loved ones, my surroundings, my favorite authors, even the sweet crunch of an apple, then I start to see the kindness all around me and I want to contribute my own kindness to the people I encounter, or to the planet. Often, all it takes is slowing down and paying attention.
I offer thanks to this supportive community for providing a home for wayward bloggers and a safe place for people to express their innermost thoughts. Hoping this Thanksgiving holiday will give us all an opportunity to slow down and appreciate how much we have to be thankful for . . . and to commit to the gratitude remedy 365 days a year.
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” (Albert Schweitzer)