What Do I Mean By Gratitude?

We began with ‹thinking› and ended with ‹thanking›. Whether or not there is an etymological relationship between these two words, there is a connection between the two actions.

We can be grateful to the extent that we become aware of what is being given to us – to the extent that we can think. And the more our thoughts are supported by gratitude, the better we can think.

Photo: Xue Li

We strive to give thanks not only for what has already been given but also for what is currently being created and for what is yet to come. Being grateful is a completely free activity. Sometimes we insist that our children say ‹thank you›. However, we cannot force gratitude itself. Often, there is no need for words if gratitude is truly given and received under the symbol of freedom. One look is all it takes.

In 1980, I volunteered with Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity. All day, we gathered the sick and dying off the dirty streets of Calcutta. By the end of the week, I had gotten dysentery. Silently I wondered how one could be grateful when the world is full of misery. Then a strange thought came to me: no one could say that he had ever thanked God or had ever been grateful if he had not also been grateful for the suffering.

From: ‹Find yourself anew – six steps to a creative life›, in Michael Lipson, ‹Falter›, Verlag Freies Geistesleben 2015. Translation: Monika Werner

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