The discipline of gratitude


I often wonder why it is that some individuals seemingly have no sense of gratitude or thankfulness for what they have or what others have done for them. I used to think that being thankful should just come naturally… just being aware of how you’ve been blessed. But, I ran across a quote recently that might tell a different story:

“The discipline of gratitude is explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” – Henri Nouwen

Nouwen’s thoughts indicate that gratitude is a direct effort, an intentional act. I think I agree with him. I have seven grandchildren. And, being around small children has made me see that gratitude is not a natural human attribute. It has to be taught. Children learn to be thankful because their parents compel them to be thankful; because their parents teach them that they have been blessed; and because their parents teach them to express their thankfulness. Eventually, these children grow up to be adults that more freely and willingness acknowledge and express their gratitude. In other words, they develop the discipline of gratitude through the influence of their parents and, hopefully, their grandparents. AND, they live out this gratitude by what they do and how they treat others. They learn to serve others because they see their blessings as a gift… a gift to be celebrated.

We have been gifted with much. Most of us have good jobs that make our lifestyle possible. Most of us have wonderful families. Most of us have many comforts that make life enjoyable. Most of us have friends that care for us. Most of us have abilities, skills, and hobbies that make us productive and happy. Most of us have a bright future. Most of us have good health. Sure, we all have challenges, worries, and difficulties. However, I think we would all say, if we were honest, we have much more to be thankful for than concerned about. Today would be a good day to consider those blessings and, if we don’t already have it, begin developing that attitude of gratitude… that discipline of gratitude… spoken of by Nouwen.

I am thankful for you… my coworkers and colleagues. You are a big part of my life and my life is blessed because of you. Thanks for what you do to “gift” my life.

Finally, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it would be good to quote a post I recently saw on Facebook:

“I was just sitting here thinking how wonderful it would be to revisit one of the Thankgivings I remember as a kid… Grandma and Grandpa’s house filled with all our family, the best food on earth, and not a worry in the world. If I could go back, I promise you I would cherish every single second.” – Anonymous

Have a terrific day! There is a great chance that this could be our best day yet. Don’t miss it!  And, have your best Thanksgiving yet!

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