This morning, out of the blue, a friend sent me a YouTube video aptly titled “10 Minute Morning Meditation for Gratitude and Positivity to Start Your Day”**. Side note: the editor in me really wants to shorten that title by about eight words. If I’m being completely honest, my mornings frequently are rushed and hectic and involve a good amount of coffee. But I gave the video a whirl and it really was a nice way to start the day. I felt much calmer and ready to face the day. And, of course, it got me thinking about gratitude and what that really means. I stumbled on a nice essay by Michael Perry, which I am going to share here.
I cannot anticipate the state of our hearts as we meet in this moment, but I choose for my subject a word I owe more study whatever may transpire after I type it: gratitude.
Gratitude. Such a lovely word. Humble and warm. Humble, because it’s not a word you use if you think you did everything yourself. Humble, because no matter how hard you did work at whatever it is you’re grateful for, you know—and more importantly, acknowledge—there was some luck involved. Warm, because gratitude is not compatible with a cold soul. Warm, because gratitude radiates, like the gentle rays of a heart-sized sun. Gratitude goes softly out and does good works—which generate more gratitude. Gratitude is renewable energy.
Gratitude, because to offer anything less would be to ignore all privilege. The privilege of existence. The privilege of health. The privilege of privilege. And now we are back at humility—or ought to be.
Gratitude, because the world is awash with the sour surf of opposing sentiments.
Gratitude, for those who show us the same.
Gratitude, even in grumpiness. Which is to say I am not talking all hosannas, hugs, and puppies here, I am talking about perspective and preponderance and relativity and a sideways glance into the cosmic mirror, where behind me I spy millions of souls who would give all they own for just one of my disappointing Tuesdays. Gratitude as my moral duty.
Gratitude, because it’s so easy. A note. A word. You don’t even have to talk. Gratitude can be soundless. You can speak it with your eyes. Share it with a smile. Weave it into your works. You can kneel down and offer it up.
Gratitude. A triple-syllabic salutation to the six directions, whichever way you’re pointing. The echoes go on and on. The echoes are gratitude returning. There is the idea among psychologists that gratitude can be cultivated. Put it out there and it comes back to you.
Gratitude as a practice. As an intentional act. Gratitude in the form of reflection. A quiet moment. A look back.
Gratitude, not as obligation but as celebration.
Gratitude, with our loved ones in mind. The ones who suffer our ingratitudes with grace, and that grace yet another reason for gratitude. Grace: cousin and catalyst to gratitude.
Gratitude, because as this year–or this day, or this hour, or this moment–draws to a close I am reminded it was another year granted, not guaranteed, and therefore not taken for granted.
Gratitude, no matter the season.
copyright 2015, 2016, by Michael Perry, from the book Roughneck Grace.
Gratitude, obviously, is much easier when times are good. Therefore, I thought I would also pass on a second article (this one is a bit more academic) which discusses the value of gratitude during difficult times.
PS--Here's the video: https://youtu.be/wnusFbC0E80
What are you grateful for? How do you stay that way during difficulties? Write me back and let me know!