22 November 2016      


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Gratitude:  Why and for What?
Bernie Siegel

Gratitude (an excerpt)
Sarah Ban Breathnach

Why Should We Be Thankful?
tom walsh

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Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest person it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.

Edward Sandford Martin

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest people, but be careful that you do not take the day and leave out the gratitude.

E.P. Powell

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.

Johannes A. Gaertner

A thankful person is thankful under all circumstances.  A complaining soul complains even if he or she lives in paradise.



Gratitude:  Why and for What?
Bernie Siegel

When I go out jogging in the morning, I sometimes notice how much weather influences people's response to life and to one another.  When it is gray and rainy, many people look unhappy.  When the sun is out and the temperature and humidity are comfortable, people are smiling and calling out to one another, "Hello, isn't it a lovely day."  For me, a lovely day is any day I wake up.  If I'm awake, I'm grateful to be alive and to have another day to experience life.

I speak as a realist, not an optimist.  I know that the longer I live, the more problems I will have.  So what is there to be grateful for?  I am grateful every day for the opportunity to have more problems, to learn how to live with them and rejoice in them.  That is enough, but there is more to be thankful for.  Every day is another opportunity to love and interact with God's creation, and on some days to be a co-creator.

The weather or the events of the day do not determine whether I am grateful for my life on that day.  Every time I jog through the world, I am awed by what I find.  On a winter morning, when it seems too cold and slippery for safe jogging or bicycling, I can still go out and experience the glory of sunlight turning icy branches into strings of sparkling diamonds. . . .

If your gratitude depends on what life gives you or what other people do for you or to you, you will be disappointed more often than you are grateful.

But you can learn to feel grateful by rethinking your attitude towards life.  First, remember that contentment lies in giving.  If you know that giving is better than receiving, then you can feel grateful for what you are able to give others.  This does not mean you ignore your own needs.  You will decide what to give and how to give it, and then at the end of the day you will be grateful for having had the chance to give in your own way.  Remember, we all have something to give, and our ability to give is not related to our finances or physical strength.

Second, be grateful simply for being alive.  When you are grateful for life, pure and simple, your life becomes one you can be grateful for.  That may strike you as circular or even backward logic, but your attitude really does have an effect on how things work out.  When you can't change your life and other way, you can still change your attitude.  When you do, your life changes.  You find more chances to love, and you will be surprised to se how much more love is returned to you.


This book is a continuation of the work I began when I became Bernie. It is a collection of stories about how to deal with life's difficulties. Most of the people in these stories have not had the great wake-up call; that is, they are mot facing life-threatening illnesses. So in a sense, this book is preventive medicine. It is a prescription for living that gives you effective and healthy ways of dealing with the adversity that occurs in everyone's life. I want to help you learn to accept your mortality before something catastrophic brings you face-to-face with the end of your life.
-from the introduction


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Gratitude (an excerpt)
Sarah Ban Breathnach

There is a wonderful Hasidic parable about the power of gratitude to change the course of our destiny in a heartbeat, the speed, I imagine, it takes for a "thank you" to reach Heaven's ears.

Once times were tough.  Two men--both poor farmers--were walking down a country lane and met their Rabbi.  "How is it for you?" the Rabbi asked the first man.  "Lousy," he grumbled, bemoaning his lot and lack.  "Terrible, hard, awful.  Not worth getting out of bed for.  Life is lousy."

Now, God was eavesdropping on this conversation.  "Lousy?" the Almighty thought.  "You think your life is lousy now, you ungrateful lout?  I'll show you what lousy is."

Then, the Rabbi turned to the second man.  "And you, my friend?"

"Ah, Rabbi--life is good.  God is so gracious, so generous.  Each morning when I awaken, I'm so grateful for another day, for I know, rain or shine, it will unfold in wonder and blessings too bountiful to count.  Life is so good."

God smiled as the second man's thanksgiving soared upwards until it became one with the harmony of the heavenly hosts.  Then the Almighty roared with delighted laughter.  "Good?  You think your life is good now?  I'll show you what good is!"

Gratitude is the most passionate transformative force in the cosmos.  When we offer thanks to God or to another human being, gratitude gifts us with renewal, reflection, reconnection.  Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life (is it abundant or is it lacking?) and the world (is it friendly or is it hostile?).  Once we accept that abundance and lack are parallel realities and that each day we choose--consciously or unconsciously--which world we will inhabit, a deep inner shift in our reality occurs.  We discover the sacred in the ordinary and we realize that every day is literally a gift.  How we conduct our daily round, how we celebrate it, cherish it, and consecrate it is how we express our thankfulness to the Giver of all good.

Gratitude holds us together even as we're falling apart.  Ironically, gratitude's most powerful mysteries are often revealed when we are struggling in the midst of personal turmoil.  When we stumble in the darkness, rage in anger, hurl faith across the room, abandon all hope.  While we cry ourselves to sleep, gratitude waits patiently to console and reassure us; there is a landscape larger than the one we can see.


So that everyone can experience the transformational rewards of being grateful, Ban Breathnach designed a day-by-day journal for counting one's blessing. Years of disciplined gratitude have taught Ban Breathnach that "if you give thanks for five gifts every day, in two months you may not look at your life in the same way as you might now." The journal itself is highly inviting--bordered with simple country colors of cream, corn yellow, and dried sage. But even more inviting are the inspirational quotes sprinkled throughout, such as Henry Van Dyke's message: "Gratitude is twofold--love coming to visit us and love running out to greet a welcome guest."


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Let us give thanks for this beautiful day.
Let us give thanks for this life.
Let us give thanks for this water
without which life would not be possible.
Let us give thanks for Grandmother Earth
who protects us and nourishes us.

Daily Prayer of the Lakota


Why Should We Be Thankful?

I've met people who don't consider gratitude to be an important part of their lives.  After all, they've worked hard for everything that they have and they've received very little help from others, so what's to be thankful for?  In their minds, all that they have for which they could be thankful is the result of their effort, so if they're going to be thankful, they have only themselves to thank.

Many of these people have a point, no matter how weak that point may be.  Personally, I know what it's like to fight battles alone, with no help from anyone.  Many times in my life I've found myself in situations in which nobody was there to offer encouragement or assistance.  Sometimes those situations have been much more difficult because of that lack of support, but fortunately, I've been able to make it through most of those situations pretty well.  There have even been times in my life when I've felt that everything I did, I did alone, and there was really nothing to be thankful for.  Yes, I found a job that I liked, but that school needed a teacher anyway, and if it wasn't me, it would have been someone else.  Sure, I accomplished that task, but it would have been much easier--and probably much more enjoyable--if someone had been there to help me.


Be grateful for what you have now. As you begin to think
about all the things in your life you are grateful for, you will
be amazed at the never-ending thoughts that come back
to you of more things to be grateful for.

Rhonda Byrne


This lack of gratitude, though, has been quite a hindrance to me.  Not acknowledging the things that I have to be thankful for has kept me separated from life, pushed even further into isolation and separation.  Gratitude is a force that allows us to feel the connectedness of life, the oneness with everything that surrounds us and helps us to get through life.  When I don't feel gratitude, I don't realize that the trees around me are working hard to produce oxygen so that we can all breathe and live.  Of course, there's a valid argument that the trees aren't doing this consciously, that they aren't working to give us anything, but I believe that argument to be more harmful than helpful.

You see, gratitude isn't something that we practice in order to show others how grateful we are.  Gratitude is a force that we work on developing because it makes us stronger human beings.  It gives us strength in our dealings with others, and it helps us to feel that we are part of something larger.  It helps us to see the purpose behind things that we otherwise might view with despair or cynicism.  Think about it--when you die, would you prefer that the people who are dear to you feel grateful that they had you in their lives while you were there, or would you prefer that they spend their days in despair because you're no longer there.  I would love to think of the people I love having a big party after I die, glad to have known me and glad that I've gone to a better place.


Perhaps true appreciation is a fantastic kind of creativity
that can lead to spiritual growth.  Let us choose our lives
with love and gratitude.  Let us use the laws of thanksgiving
and forgiving to bless ourselves and others and
make our lives more complete.

John Marks Templeton


Despair, anger, and frustration come when we aren't grateful for the simple things in life--the smile and greeting, the touch on the shoulder, the hug, the beautiful flowers, the cool breeze on a summer day or the warm breeze on a chilly spring day, the favorite songs we listen to when we're down.  When we actively reflect on how grateful we are for these things in our lives, we connect ourselves to them, and we're part of a much larger whole.  When we recognize this connectedness, the negatives don't seem so bad, for we see that there's usually a larger purpose behind them, a purpose that will help us to grow and develop as people.

Gratitude is a choice.  Thanksgiving is something that we can work on and develop, and the stronger we develop our skills of giving thanks, the easier it is to see the purpose and the beauty of life.  We can choose to be completely logical and realistic and view things as logical outcomes of certain actions and situations, but when we do so, we rob ourselves of the acknowledgement of our place in the world, and the many blessings that we all have through no effort of our own.


Gratitude is the highest form of acceptance.  Like patience,
it is one of the catalytic agents, one of the alchemist's secrets
for turning dross to gold, hell to heaven, death to life.
Where there is gratitude we get the teaching.

Stephen Levine

We wish you a happy Thanksgiving, even those of you who are in countries which don't celebrate the day.  And we wish you the ability to practice Thanksgiving fully and unconditionally in your lives, so that you may become richer and more vital, more alive, and more aware of all the wonder that surrounds us all every day.

More on gratitude.


One of the most important elements of living life fully is awareness-- awareness of our surroundings, of other people and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that affect us most in our lives, both positively and negatively. In the twelve years of livinglifefully.com's existence, this essay series has been a mainstay of the weekly e-zine--a series that has explored not just the things that exist and that happen around us, but also our reactions to those things. The first five years of the column are now available exclusively on Kindle.



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Expressing gratitude ignites the light within us and is a sure path to joy.  Gratitude is one of the highest vibrations of energy we can create, it's free, and anyone can give it.  It can be as simple as being thankful for soup, being thankful one can see, walk, wiggle a finger, or tap to a beat.  One can be grateful for happy children, good neighbors, good luck, and simply being alive. . . . Part of the journey toward joy involves not waiting around for trouble, but being continuously aware of our blessings.

Charlotte Davis Kasl

Giving Thanks
Joanne Shenandoah

In respect to our home, the Earth, we say "Thank You"
to the Earth for everything that she gives to us, nourishing us every day.
We give thanks to all the water in the world, everything within that water.
We give thanks to all the grass that lives on the land.
We give thanks to all the berries, the fruits, the medicines.
We give thanks to the animals that keep the forest clean.
We give thanks to all the trees, for the different uses that they give to us:
for shelters, fires that we make at home at night keeping us warm.
We give thanks to the birds who sing their beautiful songs.
We give thanks to the four winds.
We give thanks to the grandfathers, the ones that bring the rain,
And we give thanks to our oldest brother the sun,
who shines his light every day.
We give thanks to our oldest grandmother the moon, for she is the one who has been charged with the duty to make sure that light has a continuance; she is the one that watches over all the movements of the water, and also the water within us.
We give thanks to the stars her helpers, and we give special thanksgiving to the four sacred beings that watch over the human family.  Sometimes we notice them when we are traveling in dangerous places; they are the ones that come to our minds and say "Go around, don't go any further."  So that's what they're there for:  to protect us, steer us away from danger.
So that's what we do--we start right from the Earth, and we climb a ladder, right to the special place beyond the heavens, where there's a special spirit that lives there, the spirit that made it possible for us to be here, and everything that we've mentioned.  And so with the collectiveness of our minds and hearts, we send a special thanksgiving and greeting to the Great Spirit of us all.


These songs honor the Covenant between humankind and the earth with riveting music that masterfully weaves original compositions and powerful messages from the ancient Iroquois prophecy. On this progressive recording Shenandoah's enchanting voice is backed with percussive grooves, vivid string arrangements, and tribal sounds in a modern style that ranges from dance to trance.


Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion.  Hope without thankfulness
is lacking in fine perception.  Faith without thankfulness lacks strength
and fortitude.  Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed
and limps along the spiritual road.

John Henry Jewett


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