August 25

When something does not insist
on being noticed, when we aren't
grabbed by the collar or struck on
the skull by a presence or an event,
we take for granted the very things
that most deserve our gratitude.

Cynthia Ozick


Today's Meditation:

Sometimes it's the lack of attention-grabbing that is the most important to us.  How many times have we read the stories of the kids who were no problem to their parents, how they felt neglected and lonely because the parents were always focused on the kids who were always in trouble and neglected the kids who caused no trouble.  In a case like that, we should be incredibly grateful to the child who is well behaved, yet the truth is that we do, indeed, take him or her for granted.

There are many things that don't grab our attention.  The toilet that doesn't back up, the car that doesn't need servicing, the television that lasts for years and years, the friends who never borrow money or make us feel uncomfortable, the co-worker who is reliable and dependable and who always has everything done--all of these things and people are deserving of our greatest gratitude, for they help our lives to move on smoothly without terrible bumps or bruises.  Yet we tend to keep our minds focused on the problems, and we forget to be thankful for the things that are going well.

There are also events that are like that--the birthday party that flows smoothly, the trip to the baseball game, the class we attend that goes off without a hitch each week, the meeting or the meal that flows smoothly and is enjoyable--we don't keep our minds on these things because they don't call our attention like the party that has problems or the trip to the ball game that involves the car breaking down or the meal that's ruined because the bread gets burned and there's too much salt in the soup.

One of the most important skills that we can develop in life is that of making gratitude an active part of who we are.  When we can recognize the things that really do deserve our thankfulness, then we can actually recognize just how well we do have things, and just how blessed our lives truly are.

Questions to consider:

Why do we tend to be more thankful for some things than for others?

Think about the last few times you've felt deep gratitude.  Does it tend to happen after some sort of trying event, or on a daily basis with the ordinary things that you have and go through?

Name two strategies for actively developing our sense of gratitude.

For further thought:

Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted--
a paved road or a washing machine?  If you concentrate on finding
what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life
will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.

Harold Kushner

More on gratitude.


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