But if you buy into gratitude for those reasons, I think you’re missing the point. You may not even be expressing “true” gratitude at all.
Gratitude has been defined as the “readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” I like that. Recognizing and returning kindness. We often talk about the former – recognizing. We rarely think of the latter – returning. Gratitude goes beyond acknowledgment. It is an obligation – no, a true desire – to be compassionate towards others.
Today is Thanksgiving Day. One of my favorite holidays. I know there are the banal and commercial elements surrounding Thanksgiving’s origin, propagation and celebration. But let’s set the storefront parade, football games, and Black Friday aside for a moment and think of what it means to be truly thankful.
The beauty of thankfulness is that it is something that everyone can enjoy. From the most popular, affluent and talented to the forgotten, impoverished and plain. Thankfulness is accessible to anyone regardless of origin, condition, and belief. To be sure, gratitude is much more difficult for some than others. Hard for someone in Aleppo to be thankful. Or those who suffer from illness. Or those who have lost jobs, possessions, health, loved ones … perhaps even themselves. But gratitude isn’t comparative. It is not about being thankful that you’re not like the other. It is about being thankful for who you are what others have done for you regardless of station. It is about showing appreciation for others and their acts of kindness both large and small.
I have been blessed beyond merit because I’ve merited little. So thanks. Thanks to all of you out there who have looked past my and others’ faults and have shown grace and kindness.
Thanks to those who’ve suffered through much and still persevere. Thanks for another day to try and the opportunity to do something – even a small thing – that makes things better. Let’s try to be thankful not for the sake of how it might help our brain, our health, or our happiness. But let’s be thankful because it is a proper response to the life we’ve been given.