On this Thanksgiving day...
WASHINGTON—Thanksgiving Day is awash in sentiment, but gratitude is not a sentiment. It’s a virtue. It’s certainly nice, but it is more
than a feeling or an emotion. Properly understood, gratitude is hard because it entails both an admission and a demand.
A genuine sense of gratitude is rooted in the realization that when I think about all that I am, all that I have, and all that I might
have achieved, I cannot claim to have done any of this by myself. None of us is really “self-made.” We must all acknowledge the
importance of the help, advice, comfort and loyalty that came from others.
I would add to that list - support both financial and moral.
As the author goes on to state, gratitude is only on occassion a feeling and attitude.
For myself, I don't often 'feel' grateful. However, I do practise gratitude on a daily basis for the very real and practical results I receive
from the practise.
Intellectually, I realize all that I have to be grateful for, all those people and institutions (know and unknown) that contributed to my life and I
list or give thanks for them everyday.
Since beginning this practise, it is often the first thing I do in the morning. When worry and fear for what the day may bring, I turn my thoughts to
what I have and am grateful for (a warm bed, clean running water, etc.) and it blocks the fear and anger and helps me start the day.
I list my gratitudes (as my good friend calls them) as I drive (I have a car, it runs well, traffic though slow is moving, etc).
At work, when one of my bosses is being unreasonable and I want to lash out I mentally list what I'm grateful for (I do have a job, I have an example
how not to be in front of me, I've an opportunity to be patient, etc).
Gratitude is for me a tool I use to direct my thinking away from the horrible and towards the acceptable. It works. Its makes a sometimes difficult
Then too, Gratitude is about action. Working with and for others, without the need for acknowlegement or recompense. Gratitude is about paying back
the world that has taken care of you.
Happy Thanksgiving - A truly Secular Humanist holiday.