There are certain moments throughout the year when we are reminded about the importance of being grateful. There are several countries that celebrate the holiday of Gratefulness, or “ThanksGiving”. What happens when the holiday is over? Do we simply return to the busyness of our everyday lives?
I know a couple who have young kids. Every Valentine, they have a tradition. They work hard to find a baby sitter that wasn’t already busy and go out for supper. They look forward to this night weeks before and spend the whole meal holding hands and creating memories. Then, the rest of the year, she would complain about how they never made time for each other. Suppers at the table are spent apart because my friend’s husband comes home late from work. Week-ends are spent catching up on work and household chores and running around taking the kids to soccer practice.
They are not happy. That one Valentine’s day is not enough to get them through the rest of the year. Their one-day practice and investment in their marriage does not net enough return to compensate for their hectic lives.
In a similar fashion, practicing gratefulness one day is not enough to bring about happiness. Happiness is something we all aim for, no matter where we live in the world. How we imagine our happiness may differ but the attainment of happiness is a goal we all want.
Brother David Steindl-Rast, a monk and interfaith scholar speaks about the attainment of happiness and gratefulness.
Which comes first, Happiness or Gratefulness? Do you need to be happy in order to be grateful?
Let’s reflect on that a bit. Are there people who have all that they really need to be happy but aren’t? Are there people who have had lots of misfortune but radiate happiness?
“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” — Frank A. Clark
When we focus on chasing happiness, we don’t take the time necessary to realize all the opportunities that are already around us. In David’s Ted Talk, he suggests that happiness is born from gratitude. It’s gratefulness that makes you happy.
What is David’s advice for learning to be grateful? He suggests a simple method similar to how we learned as children to cross the street.
Stop. Look. Go.
David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful
“If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live.” – David Steindl-Rast
When was the last time you stopped? Take this moment today to do just that. Don’t just practice this during the holidays but make it a daily habit. This is a habit I need to practice more of. I’ve been wanting to make this part of my morning routine for a while. Maybe it’s time that I Stop. Look. Go.
If you want to be inspired with 20 Quotes on Gratitude, click the link.
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