Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful,
then no matter how much we have we will not be happy –
because we will always want to have something else or something more.
David Steindl-Rast, osb
The heart receives many conflicting messages about how to relate to the world and what brings happiness. In the US Thanksgiving leads into Black Friday, and the influence of this notion is now reproduced around the world, including here in Ireland.
For many people in our culture, the heart fills up with joy, with gratefulness, and just at the moment when it wants to overflow and really the joy comes to itself, at that moment, advertisement comes in and says “No, no, there’s a better model, and there’s a newer model, and your neighbor has a bigger one.” And so instead of overflowing, we make the bowl bigger, and bigger, and bigger. And it never overflows. It never gives us this joy. It’s affluent, this affluency side that means it always flows in, it doesn’t overflow. It flows in, and in, and in, and in, and chokes us eventually. And we don’t have to deprive ourselves of anything, but we can learn that the real joys come with quality, not with quantity.
David Steindl-Rast, Anatomy of Gratitude, Interview with Krista Tippett, On Being.
A special greeting for Thanksgiving for all those who read and follow the Blog in the United States. Gratitude helps us to focus on what we have, and not on what we lack,
I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on the bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.
Henry David Thoreau, Letter, Friends and Followers, 1856
One regret, dear world,
I am determined not to have
when I am dying on my deathbed
is that I did not kiss you enough.
There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections—that requires hard spiritual work.
Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment.