The concept of gratitude is grounded in the larger idea of Divine love and intention. I believe that, ultimately, I exist because God has set in motion human life, including my life. The Divine will has created all that exists, and therefore everything I experience comes to me not because I deserve it or have worked hard for it or have somehow generated it. All is gift. Because I believe that life’s riches come to me because God is gracious, I experience gratitude as a matter of course. I don’t feel the need to fight and compete for what I want and need. I see life in terms of abundance, rather than in terms of scarcity.
Such gratitude will lead naturally to another key virtue: generosity. If life is abundant, there’s enough of everything to go around. I can share rather than hoard. I can welcome others rather than protect my turf by fencing them out. Gratitude and generosity go hand in hand, and these attitudes work against the belief system of scarcity, competition, and defensiveness. These are two opposite ways of living, and I am constantly becoming more thankful or more grasping—the two attitudes do not coexist.
A friend of mine, Jon Sweeney, came up with a fine idea for the day after Thanksgiving. Rather than a Black Friday, when we seek to buy and possess all we can, why not make the day after Thanksgiving one of giving away what we don’t need? He calls it Thanksgiveaway, and I think it’s a great twin for Thanksgiving. See his post.
- How have gratitude and generosity come alive in your life?
- What do you do to nurture gratitude rather than grasping?