A New Take on Gratitude

I have a whole new take on the gratitude since attending a Zoom meeting about gratitude practices. Most of us know about gratitude journals and jars, but here are some practices new to me.

A gratitude practice can invoke compassion in us. For example, one woman in the meeting shared how she struggled with depression and is navigating life anew after a contentious divorce. Her gratitude practice focuses on the goodness in her ex-husband. “Without him, I wouldn’t have had my five beautiful children,” she said. “He was a horrible husband but a good provider and a stellar father.” 


Unfortunately, people and situations who are irritating can blind us to their goodness. This woman’s approach makes her gratitude more inclusive.


Gratitude can make us giddy. But, then, there are the “Why me?” situations or relationships that can knock us off balance in a nano-second. When this happens, life becomes murky with resentment, making it impossible to find a grain of gratitude in it. But that nagging human condition called hope can save the day. Hope is formed in prayer, optimism, or a strong belief in a happily-ever-after. As hope rises, hearts soften, and glimpses of gratitude begin to appear. This gratitude moves us—not always as quickly as we’d like—beyond resentment and toward redemption. And when we arrive, we experience giddy gratitude that we exuberantly greet with, “I’m so happy to see you. Thanks for coming!”


Then there’s aspirational gratitude. Just as hope can take us toward the light of gratitude, it can also keep us from it. How often do we wish or hope for things we don’t have, which often makes us more miserable with what we do have? I remember attending a few pity parties in my life. That’s where I met the guest of honor—a bitter party of one. Me. The question to ask for this practice is, “What’s something in your life that you’d like to be grateful for but aren’t? It’s a challenging question, but I think it’s worth pursuing the answers. Who knows how many pearls of wisdom we might find on a deep dive for them?



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