I have written about this before, and had the opportunity to talk about it in a recent public forum. It is about gratitude, and what better time to ponder gratitude than the day before Thanksgiving?
Gratitude is an antidote for more of the things that ail us than Bee Propolis. Imagine an Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Donald Trump driven by deep gratitude? I know, right? It would truly be a different world.
I like to imagine that the economy of God operates by the invisible hand of gratitude rather than greed, as in our economy. Please forgive the theological metaphor, and even if you do not believe in God imagine a human society with an economy that had gratitude as its core value rather than self-interest. If you can’t imagine it, I recommend the exercise because even the ability to imagine it has a healing quality.
Gratitude also heals grief. As far as I know, it’s the only thing that does. It happens over time, of course, rather than with one big swig. Grief is extraordinarily debilitating but reaching for and touching gratitude for the person or thing lost, will work its way into the grief and mellow it. Little by little the grief will dissipate and allow for memories without pain — or at least tolerable pain. I have no idea how or why gratitude works like that but it does.
Gratitude is also a gateway to awe. Now there is a word we do not utter much: awe. When was the last time you felt awe? If it has been awhile I am betting you need more gratitude in your diet.
The distance from gratitude to awe is a breath, just a breath. When we feel deep gratitude for something we have encountered there is a good chance it will inspire us to step back and “behold” it rather than consume it. Consumption leads to satiation and we smile because we have been pleased. Gratitude leads to awe and we take a deep breath because we can’t believe how fortunate we’ve been to witness whatever has inspired us. And then you know what happens? We immediately want to share it.
When we have seen an awesome sunset we want to share it with someone. When we have the taste of delicious ice cream we just want to keep eating it.
It is crazy how power the effect of gratitude is if we cultivate it. Gratitude is one of the amazing elements of character (it’s not really an emotion) that is self-generating. The more we experience it the more of it we have. It requires an opening of the heart and appreciative inquiry of the mind for gratitude to seep in and generate a reservoir inside us.
But gratitude can also be fragile. When we gravitate too easily and too often toward self-satisfaction and happiness-driven pleasure-seeking, gratitude will evaporate and leave us with its vacancy. Again, I do not know how and why gratitude works this way, just that it does.
Gratitude is like a prism that refracts colorful beads of light every which way — and as such the dimensions of gratitude seem almost infinite. So as you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal, may I recommend taking a moment to behold the people and feast before you. Take a deep breath and touch gratitude.