“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Marcus Tullius Cicero
I’m not sure how one can even begin to measure the value of gratitude in our lives. When we are grateful, we are not discontent, angry, envious, or worried. Such feelings cannot arise in the midst of gratitude. When we are grateful, we are not looking outside of ourselves for satisfaction. Instead, we are cultivating contentment. There is no clinging, grasping or projecting. There is fulfillment. When we are grateful, we are recognizing all the kindnesses and opportunities we have been shown and the abundance we already have. We are unable to water the seeds of discontent by dwelling on what we don’t have. When we reflect upon the opportunities, resources and abundance we have in our lives as compared to the majority of the 7 billion other human beings, many that live without education, electricity, or even basic sustenance, what is it that we are lacking? If we can’t learn to be happy with what we have now, what will it take? When we received so much already and are not happy, what makes us think that getting that next thing or the next pleasurable activity will somehow quench our thirst of desire?
As today’s inspiration indicates, gratitude is much more than its own virtue, for its very nature allows us to cultivate more virtuous attitudes and activities. When we take a moment to accurately reflect upon the infinite kindness of all the people that have helped us, most of whom we will never know, a natural state of gratitude arises within us that nurtures and supports our connection to the world we live in and the others we share it with. We can take anything that we have in our lives, the computer you’re on, the phone you’re looking at, the food you enjoy today, and ask, how many people were involved in its creation and delivery to us? There’s no way to calculate such numbers for they include those that built the vehicles that transported the items, the roads they were carried on, those who designed the products, and the people that helped us make a living so we can buy such things. This is just the beginning as you can see the list is long! When we recognize that everything that we have in our lives, including our education and the opportunities we have are the result of innumerable others, not only do we recognize our good fortune, we also find our connection and abundance. With such a state of gratitude built upon our interdependence with all others we share this world, it is quite natural that we start engaging with others in more meaningful and virtuous ways.
I invite you to cultivate gratitude. We encourage you to start your day with a short reflection noting a few things or people that are truly meaningful to you. Reflect upon all of the kindnesses of others that allowed you to have these things or people in your life. As you engage in your day, do your best to maintain an attitude of gratitude, not losing track of all you already have to be grateful for. See how this affects your actions and interactions. John Bruna, July 11, 2016
The above is a an excerpt from one the daily emails sent to the members of the Mindful Life Community. I invite you to explore our community and consider joining.