Learning to Express Gratitude in the Everyday
by Liz Jansen
Expressing gratitude was an engrained practice in my family. Every day, my grandfather gave thanks to God for being able to live in a land of freedom and peace. Even during years of poverty and hardship, prayers opened with gratitude. Memories of the anarchy and terror they’d escaped were never out of range.
My parents continued the tradition. Both were born in Canada but life was not easy. Yet they always found something to be grateful for.
As a child growing up in a land of plenty, I was another generation removed from the experiences of my ancestors. I was appreciative and polite but had little upon which to calibrate heart-felt gratitude.
It’s only been in recent decades that I’ve embraced gratitude as a personal experience. An intentional practice of mindfulness and awareness has brought it to life. Now it appears spontaneously by appreciating the gifts right in front of me.
There are many purported benefits of living in gratitude. While admirable, they’re not a reason to give thanks.
The most profound feelings come from the seemingly mundane. A flower, butterfly, or hearing the stream behind my house elicit a thank-you from deep in my soul. Sunshine, music from wind chimes, and even rain make me ecstatic to be alive.
I look into the plate of food in front of me and think of the many hands that have come together to make my simple meal. A farmer has grown and nurtured the crop. Someone else has created the nutrients used to nourish the plants or animals. Others help with harvesting before delivering the crop to a packaging operation. A variety of people in distribution and transportation add their role. Finally, the shelf stocker at the local grocery store stacks it into a compelling display.
The whole world comes together at my table.
I am humbled and grateful.
Learning to express gratitude is a personal path, developed through consistent practice. It intensifies with use.
Gratitude is food for the soul. From the soul.
What are you grateful for? Tell us in the comments.