One of the most valuable practices you can learn is the practice of gratitude. Gratitude is not just expressions: it is not just saying “thank you” or “I appreciate it.”, it is a state of mind. Very little is guaranteed in this life – not your health, not wealth, not companionship. They are all things that you create for yourself through a blend of hard work and good fortune. Knowing that the good things in your life are conditional, and knowing you are lucky to have them is a very powerful thing.
When we are grateful for what we have, it helps us keep in mind what is really important in life. It prevents us from becoming hungry for more, more, more without any perspective. It helps us set realistic goals. And it lets us communicate with other people far more effectively, because we are aware that we are not entitled to their time, energy, or cooperation – and when we get it, it is a wonderful thing.
Gratitude as an emotion is cleansing. It flushes away fear, anger, and stress. It takes you back into the present moment. Saying “Thank you” and meaning it builds up mental strength and health.
That is why I recommend you practice gratitude every day. Take time out of your day th think of at least three things that you are grateful for: things you have worked hard to earn, or things that you are just plain lucky to have. For many religious people, they choose to thank their gods, because they believe that their gods decide whether they are lucky or not, and whether their plans work out… but you don’t need to thank anyone in particular. Just being thankful is enough. I’ll let you decide who or what to thank for yourself.
And of course, when someone does something kind for you, gratitude is not just a pleasant thing to show them: it is an opportunity for you to magnify their gift by also accepting the cleansing feelings that come with being grateful. And a pure expression of gratitude, free of entitlement, is mood-changing to the person who receives it, too. When a person receives a heart-felt thank-you, they can;t help but feel a little grateful themselves.
And that makes them want to continue their relationship with you.
I know I for one will remind myself how grateful I am for you every day. You are changign our lives more than you can imagine, and for the better.