Thanking Mom

by Peter Smith In 1999, Peter participated in a course on Naikan reflection with the ToDo Institute. During that time he reflected on a number of his relationships, including his relationship with his mother. He wrote the following essay, describing...
Continue reading "Thanking Mom"

Honoring Your Mother After She's Died

by Gregg Krech For the past twenty years I have been conducting retreats in which a person spends a week reflecting on his or her entire life (Naikan retreat). A participant always begins with her mother and a central part...
Continue reading "Honoring Your Mother After She's Died"

Sharing Dad

by Victoria Register Freeman I am basically a can-do kind of person. When my husband of eighteen years said he preferred our next door neighbor as a companion, I used up several tons of Kleenex and lost three dress sizes....
Continue reading "Sharing Dad"

The Gift of the Senses

by Gregg Krech Some people spend their entire life in one place. It may be New York City or a small town in Iowa, but it's the only place they know. I've also spent my whole life in one place...
Continue reading "The Gift of the Senses"

Mother's Day: The Memories We Forget

by Gregg Krech Imagine spending several days in quiet reflection, facing a wall, and making a list of all the specific things your mother did for you as a child -- thinking about the lunches she made for you to...
Continue reading "Mother's Day: The Memories We Forget"

I Get To . . .

by Kate Manahan Do you ever have to interrupt what you are focused on to go pick your kids up at school? Do you ever put dinner together for the family because you should, not because you are inspired to...
Continue reading "I Get To . . ."

Naikan As Preparation For Marriage in the Christian Tradition: A Case Study

by Rev. Denise Mosher The supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or more correctly, being loved in spite of yourself. ~Victor Hugo~ The goal of marriage preparation within the Christian tradition is to help...
Continue reading "Naikan As Preparation For Marriage in the Christian Tradition: A Case Study"

Living on Purpose

Many of us desire to live a more purposeful life. We want to use our time well, to put our energy towards that which truly matters, to leave behind a positive legacy. But when we step back and take...
Continue reading "Living on Purpose"

I Didn't Do It Alone

Just over four years ago, I participated in a weeklong Naikan retreat in Japan. There, I had a unique opportunity to review my entire life with a new perspective. "What have others given me? What have I given others? What troubles have I caused others?" With these three simple questions, for about 15 hours a day, I examined in painful detail the immeasurable support that surrounded me from the day I entered the world screaming to that week of sitting quietly behind a shoji screen. It did not take very long for me to realize...
Continue reading "I Didn't Do It Alone"


I compared notes with one of my friends who expects everything of the universe and is disappointed when anything is less than the best, and I found that I begin at the other extreme, expecting nothing, and am always full of thanks for moderate goods.
Continue reading "Self-Reliance"

To 0078 with Love

Where is it written the Average Jane can't benefit from the services of a personal shopper? Why are these helpful individuals inevitably seen as the sole property of persons like Roma, Christie, and Demi? At the financial low point of my life, a time when I was recently divorced and had to divide monthly bills into three piles: must pay, might pay, can't pay, I too, acquired a personal shopper. That's true. Just like the media glitterati, I had someone who shopped and inevitably purchased clothes that were the perfect fit and the perfect color.
Continue reading "To 0078 with Love"

Attention, Obstacles and Gratitude

An excerpt from a public radio interview with author Gregg Krech about attention , obstacles and the experience of gratitude. Approximately 2 1/2 minutes....
Continue reading "Attention, Obstacles and Gratitude"

Santa Clause Extended

An audio excerpt from GK Chesterton (1874-1936) exempliifying the essential gratitude he has for life itself. Chesterton was a prolific writer but is known for the childlike delight he took in whatever he encountered. On one occasion he wrote to...
Continue reading "Santa Clause Extended"

Walls Separate Us, But They Also Connect Us

by Les MacFarlane "There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." -- Albert Einstein The process of reflecting on our lives known as...
Continue reading "Walls Separate Us, But They Also Connect Us"

A Hurricane with My Mother's Name Would Not Destroy Me

So what does gratitude have to do with any of this??? First, the hurricane stripped the veil of the ordinary from my eyes. Electricity is miraculous not ordinary. Without it, the sirloin rots, the mattress mildews, the milk curdles. Gasoline is not ordinary either. Without it, the Honda becomes an aluminum shed and the groceries must be walked home in a pull cart, a trip that turns Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia into soup.
Continue reading "A Hurricane with My Mother's Name Would Not Destroy Me"

Cultivating Gratitude: An Interview with Robert Emmons, Ph.D.

Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, is one of the foremost authorities on the topic of gratitude in North America. He is the author of more than sixty research articles and two books, Words of Gratitude: For Mind, Body & Soul (Templeton Foundation Press 2001 - co-authored with Joanna Hill) and, The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford University Press, 2004). He has been studying what makes people happy for nearly twenty years and in this interview, conducted by Thirty Th ousand Days Ass't Editor Trudy Boyle, Emmons reveals some of his conclusions about the practice and importance of cultivating gratitude.
Continue reading "Cultivating Gratitude: An Interview with Robert Emmons, Ph.D."

The Art of Self-Reflection

Naikan is a method of self-reflection developed in Japan by Yoshimoto Ishin. Its structure uses our relationships with other as the mirror in which we can see ourselves. We reflect on what we have received from others, what we have given, and what troubles we have caused. Genuine self-reflection affects so many aspects of our life—the presence of gratitude, our relationships with our loved ones, the degree of judgment we place on other's faults, our mental health, lifestyle choices, investment decisions, even our faith in a supreme being or force.
Continue reading "The Art of Self-Reflection"

Over the Edge: The Search for Perspective on Tragedy

My Naikan reflection on this accident has allowed me to see, in detail, all the thoughtful acts that were done on my behalf by others -- many efforts by my family and people I had never even spoken with. At a time when I was wounded, weak and unable to care for myself, they were there for me, watching over me, offering their love and support to help me get well. It renews my faith in the world that we are intrinsically good, and it awakens my deep gratitude. I am more clearly aware now of my obligation to do for others.
Continue reading "Over the Edge: The Search for Perspective on Tragedy"

Gratitude: Inspirational Thoughts and Ideas

You must learn to understand the secret of gratitude. It is more than just so-called virtue. It is revealed to you as a mysterious law of existence. In obedience to it we have to fulfill our destiny. -Albert Schweitzer
Continue reading "Gratitude: Inspirational Thoughts and Ideas"

Giving Thanks

I benefit (quite often, I might add) when others/things are simply doing their job. When I experience this and respond with thanks, my world changes. Try it. Go through one whole day, saying "thank you" to everything and everyone who does something that serves you in any way.
Continue reading "Giving Thanks"

Failing to Make Payments

Forgotten acts of kindness from others often surface as we reflect upon our relationships. I found this to be particularly true when I did Naikan on my dad. One of the things I remembered while reflecting on my dad involved sports.
Continue reading "Failing to Make Payments"

Exploring the Link between Gratitude and Attention

[T]o cultivate gratitude, we need to develop a new habit of attention.... Through self-reflection, we can come to see everything we have, and are, as gifts. And through self-reflection we begin to train our attention to notice what we haven't noticed.
Continue reading "Exploring the Link between Gratitude and Attention"