From Kelly Manjula Koza’s archives: I wrote this some years ago for my old blog; it was originally published with a different photo.
The Thanksgiving holiday understandably brings thoughts of gratitude, and fosters much charity.
I hope these thoughts of gratitude will continue for individuals throughout the next holiday season — which all too often becomes the season of marketing and materialism, with little room left for gratitude — and into the new year.
While I value the good actions and gratitude shown over the Thanksgiving holiday, gratitude must well from within every one of us, each day of our lives. All too often, we not only forget to express gratitude, but in our competitive, time-driven, negatively-focused world, but we fail to create the mental space necessary to recognize our own gratitude.
We are the ones who suffer, for without gratitude, life becomes dry. When we fail to recognize, value, and have gratitude for what truly matters to us, that which we overlook falls out of the spectrum of our life. When we are grateful, “What we appreciate, appreciates”, as Lynne Twist so concisely states.
We cultivate gratitude by paying attention to the small things in life, by making time to realize and express our gratitude, and by living our gratitude. As John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
When the going gets rough, expressing and living with gratitude is not so easy. Many spiritual traditions remind us that tough times are not coincidences, or mistakes; difficulties in the path of life are opportunities provided so that we may grow and temper ourselves. We must practice meeting difficult times with the same gratitude we would meet good times. This has practical as well as spiritual benefits, as the following quote states:
When asked how things are, don’t whine and grumble about your hardships. If you answer “Lousy, “ then God says, “You call this bad? I’ll show you what bad really is.” When asked how things are and, despite hardship or suffering, you answer, “Good,” then God says “You call this good? I’ll show you what good really is!
~ Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
The world is having a difficult time, and we as individuals can make a difference in our own lives, and the lives of others by cultivating and expressing gratitude – not just on a designated holiday or event, but every day, in every aspect of our lives.
For what are you grateful? Can you ask yourself, and give thanks, every day?