September 2, 2003
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.
An alert human infant, at about one month of age begins to build a vocabulary making sense of the chaos of sound that bombards the senses. . . Eventually the rudiments of words come; often "Mama," "Dada," and "Me," and the all-purpose "No!" An unqualified "Yes" is a harder sell, to both children and adults. To say "yes" is to make a leap of faith, to risk oneself in a new and often scary relationship. Not being quite sure of what we are doing or where it will lead us, we try on assent, we commit ourselves to affirmation. With luck, we find our efforts are rewarded. The vocabulary of faith begins.
We grow in love when we grow in gratefulness. And we grown in gratefulness when we grow in love. Here is the link between the two: thanksgiving pivots on our willingness to go beyond our independence and to accept the give-and-take between giver and thanksgiver. But the "yes" which acknowledges our interdependence is the very "yes" to belonging, the "yes" of love. Every time we say a simple "thank you," and mean it, we practice that inner gesture of "yes." And the more we practice it the easier it becomes.
-Brother David Steindl Rast
One of the simplest and most rewarding ways to live this "yes," is to say "thank you" more often. In the old adage of the glass "half empty" or "half full" we see that our perspective is everything. My mind's natural default is to look for "da fault" in everything. The opposing muscle, which needs strengthening, is to look for what I am receiving in any given moment, and, seeing these gifts and services, to express thanks.
-Patricia Ryan Madson
Expressing gratitude is transformative, just as transformative as expressing complaint. Imagine an experiment involving two people. One is asked to spend ten minutes each morning and evening expressing gratitude (there is always something to be grateful for), while the other is asked to spend the same amount of time practicing complaining (there is, after all, always something to complain about). One of the subjects is saying things like, "I hate my job. I can't stand this apartment. Why can't I make enough money? My spouse doesn't get along with me. That dog next door never stops barking and I just can't stand this neighborhood." The other is saying things like, "I'm really grateful for the opportunity to work; there are so many people these days who can't even find a job. And I'm sure grateful for my health. What a gorgeous day; I really like this fall breeze." They do this experiment for a year. Guaranteed, at the end of that year the person practicing complaining will have deeply reaffirmed all his negative "stuff" rather than having let it go, while the one practicing gratitude will be a very grateful person. . . Expressing gratitude can, indeed, change our way of seeing ourselves and the world.
-Roshi John Daido Loori
Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted--a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.
-Rabbi Harold Kushner