“Gratitude is like a flashlight. If you go out into your yard at night and turn on a flashlight, you suddenly can see what’s there. It was always there, but you couldn’t see it in the dark.” —Dawna Markova
There are many reasons to begin a gratitude practice. We live in a culture that encourages us to continually chase after something new, more, or supposedly better. Gratitude can help us better understand what we already have, and what we really need. When we do this it helps us unhook ourselves from the allure and attraction of more stuff. That way we don’t miss the important stuff. We tend to put ourselves on automatic pilot and move through our days without paying attention as well as we could. As a result we miss out on the small, ordinary, amazing things that can light up our lives with meaning and joy—the powerful beauty and truth in a street musician’s music, the neon green of spring’s first leaves, our dog’s devotion. "In relation to others, gratitude is good manners; in relation to ourselves, it is a habit of the heart and a spiritual discipline." —Daphne Rose Kingma Gratitude can help us understand the truth of our interconnection with other people and the earth. It can help us live sustainably in community. Gratitude can help us find meaning and purpose, and make room for hope, love and justice.
Reflection Questions for contemplation, journaling, discussion:
Choose one question and carry it with you for a day. Turn it over in your mind and heart; write, sing or make up a dance about it. Savor it. Look at whatever shortcomings come forth, as well as any goodness. See what richness comes from holding just one question.
- What new perspective did/can I gain today?
- How can I love, and let go gratefully?
- In what circumstances do I feel generous?
- How can I bring forth my most generous self?
- What adds delight to my life?
- How does gratefulness deepen my compassion for others?
- How do I belong? To whom do I belong? To what do I belong?
- What moments fill me with wonder?
- Am I as grateful as I would like to be?
- What keeps me from my gratitude?
- What does gratitude feel like?
- In what ways do I practice gratitude?
“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” —Albert Schweitzer
“Look closely and you will find that people are happy because they are grateful. The opposite of gratefulness is just taking everything for granted.” —David Steindl-Rast