What does it mean to be grateful? Certainly, it’s about good manners and following the precepts of our faith, but I think it goes further, deeper, than that.
As we touched on last week where we recognized that people we didn’t know, and will probably never know, have helped us. And we recognized that there were–and are–people who help us and we don’t even know it; we go blithely along in our lives and don’t realize the ways we’ve been helped and even rescued–saved from heartache and disaster.
We’ll never be able to pay this back.
Even so, what are we going to do about it?
I suggest that we develop a permanently grateful heart and a thankful spirit especially when we think we have nothing to be thankful for. At these times it’s my hope that we are grateful anyway because of all the “good stuff ” we are so blindly unaware of.
And I hope we remember to pass this along to others in the form of not only reaching out a helping hand but also of not being so quick to judge, giving others the benefit of the doubt, and extending mercy and grace to others –especially when they don’t really deserve it.
I think there’s an old-fashioned term for this: humility.
Humility isn’t thinking of ourselves as worms or doormats and thinking that we only deserve the leftovers and crumbs.
No. Not at all.
Humility is realizing that no matter what our color, belief, size, gender, age…we’re all the same. We all want a better life for ourselves and our loved ones, and we all want to live in peace. Each of us wants our lives to matter–we want to make a difference, even if it’s in only our little corner of the world.
And, at one time or another, we’ve all made mistakes and we’ve all been jerks. Humility is realizing that no one’s perfect and we’re probably the ones leading the band on this one!
But wait a minute. We’re talking about gratitude…what does humility have to do with gratitude and thankfulness?
Humility has its roots in the gratitude we have for the unknown people who helped us either by pushing us forward or by protecting us from difficulties.
We’ve all heard that it’s better to give rather than receive. We’ve read it in the sacred writings of our faith, our Sunday school or religious teachers instructed us about this, and our parents would often remind us of this. Also, we may have observed that grateful people are nicer to be around and also seem to catch good breaks.
All of us, at least to some degree, have espoused this philosophy.
I’ve come to realize that gratefulness is more than the politeness of remembering to thank people for gifts they’ve given us, for a delightful evening, or for their generosity towards us in one form or another. I’ve observed that, in some people, gratitude and thankfulness goes deeper than just good manners, window dressing, and avoiding the wrath of God. For them, it seems to have become a personal philosophy and a way of life.
Today I encourage all of us to think about our experience of gratitude and thankfulness and how we manifest this in the world. Then as we go about our day, let this thought perk on the back burner of our mind. In the evening, let’s take time to jot down any thoughts about how we can take gratefulness and thankfulness to the next level.
You can do this, I’m sure of it! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!
In keeping with Memorial Day, we’ve been talking about people who have helped us–those people we know and those we’ll never meet–as well as talking about when Forces Beyond Us seem to step in and either prevent a disaster or push us ahead much further than we could have done ourselves, even with the help of others.
In yesterday’s post, I encouraged us to celebrate all the goodness in our lives, whether its roots are in happy surprises or disasters averted. Today, I’m encouraging us to keep a grateful heart and to commit to staying in this frame of mind going forward throughout our lives.
Is that a big challenge? Taking a look at it relative to the rest of our lives, then, yes, it’s overwhelming. However, if we take it one little step at a time, then we can do it.
Here are some steps to consider integrating into our lives:
~Begin each day with gratitude and thankfulness that we have another shot at accomplishing our Mission on Earth;
~End each day with gratitude and thankfulness that we gave it our best and our all;
~Throughout the day, take a moment for gratitude and thankfulness that we’re making progress, even if we can’t quite see it yet;
~If the day is going badly, take a moment to breathe slowly and deeply and focus on gratitude and thankfulness. If we’re having trouble thinking of things we’re grateful for–because everything seems bad and headed for disaster–let’s be thankful for things such as crayons and scissors and glue and sparkles and that kids in the world are using these to make masterpieces for their families to enjoy; be thankful that there are flowers blooming, even if they’re “weeds” alongside the road; let’s look around us and be thankful that other people are busy working, caring for their loved ones, and trying to make a difference in the world.
Ok. You get the idea. Now, go out there and be thankful today! Remember to commit to being grateful and thankful for the rest of your days, one step at a time!
You CAN do it, I am VERY sure of it! I believe in you!
Be thankful for your allotment in an imperfect world. Though better circumstances can be imagined, far worse are nearer misses than you probably care to realize.― Richelle E. Goodrich
I like this quote because it reminds me that Life is no respecter of persons and can be quite capricious at times. It reminds me to be humble and grateful because I don’t always know when Grace and plain old dumb luck have prevented a worse situation from crashing down upon me.
There is no such thing in the world as a “self-made man” or a “self-made woman”. We’ve received so much from so many for so long that we can’t even keep count. But, simply because we can’t keep count, doesn’t mean we discount.― Sharad Vivek Sagar
This is another quote that reminds me to be humble and grateful to the people I know who have helped me–and still may be helping me–but also to send out thanks to those I’ll never know how they’ve helped me. Just as I don’t always know when Grace has saved me from a terrible situation, I don’t always know from whom I’ve received a helping hand. Sometimes people’s help is so subtle, I may not make the connection. For instance, it could be an acknowledgement in passing from a stranger–a smile or the person ahead of me holding a door open for me–that lifts my mood enough that I’m able to feel the nudge from my Inner Guidance that then puts me on the path of my Next Best Thing.
She taught me that life goes on, and that I had a choice: To lament what I no longer had or be grateful for what remained.― Louise Penny
Maybe the secret to life is embodied in this quote. Perhaps the purpose of life is not whether or not we acquiring things real or ethereal, or transcending the world. Perhaps the purpose is to see how often we can turn our backs on loss and the negative and firmly turn our faces toward gratefulness of what remains and for what lies ahead.
Do one of these quotes strike a chord with you? Do you have another that resonates deeply with you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,
What about when The Universe steps in–those times when we’re amazed at the lucky breaks, the serendipity, the coincidences? We’re delighted and we remember to be grateful.
But what about the times when, through a stroke of luck, we avoid difficulties?
I was reminded of this recently when I took my car to the shop for repairs because it started making an odd clunking noise. I had debated about putting it off because the sound wasn’t that bad, but for some reason I decided to bring it in. Good thing because there was something seriously wrong with the car and had I put it off and driven it on the highway, as I was originally going to do, it could have had disastrous results.
We need to be grateful–very grateful!–for these times.
Today–when you’re preparing for the day in the morning and when you’re winding down this evening–remember to be thankful not only to the people, including The Universe, who have helped move you forward but also the people and the Universe for protecting you from disasters.