There is no closer bond than the one that gratefulness celebrates, the bond between giver and thanksgiver. Everything is a gift. Grateful living is a celebration of the universal give-and-take of life, a limitless yes to belonging. Can our world survive without gratefulness? Whatever the answer, one thing is certain: to say an unconditional yes to the mutual belonging of all beings will make this a more joyful world. This is the reason why Yes is my favorite synonym for God.
Among the many things that profoundly impress me about the Dalai Lama, quite high up on the list is his ability to say "I don't know". I've often wished that other people in prominent positions wouldn't feel the compulsion to have an answer for everything and would feel equally free to say "I don't know." It's a sign of wisdom to know that you don't know and a sign of stupidity to think that you know everything. I admire it enormously in him, and wonder why so few people in leading positions reach that stage.
We have thousands of opportunities every day to be grateful: for having good weather, to have slept well last night, to be able to get up, to be healthy, to have enough to eat. ... There's opportunity upon opportunity to be grateful; that's what life is.
Day and night gifts keep pelting down on us. If we were aware of this, gratefulness would overwhelm us. But we go through life in a daze. A power failure makes us aware of what a gift electricity is; a sprained ankle lets us appreciate walking as a gift, a sleepless night, sleep. How much we are missing in life by noticing gifts only when we are suddenly deprived of them.
People who have faith in life are like swimmers who entrust themselves to a rushing river. They neither abandon themselves to its current nor try to resist it. Rather, they adjust their every movement to the watercourse, use it with purpose and skill, and enjoy the adventure.
If there is anything the artist or a true work of art teaches us, it is that variety and complexity really increase the unity, and that to achieve unity within a great variety of complexity is a greater achievement and more satisfying piece of art than to achieve unity with just a few elements, which is relatively easily achieved.
As we learn to give thanks for all of life and death, for all of this given world of ours, we find a deep joy. It is the joy of trust, the joy of faith in the faithfulness at the heart of all things. It is the joy of gratefulness in touch with the fullness of life.
"...One can learn to focus on 'opportunity' as the gift within every given moment. This attitude towards life always improves the situation. Even in times of sickness, someone who habitually practices grateful living will look for the opportunity that a given moment offers and use it creatively."
Gratitude is here presented as more than a feeling, a virtue, or an experience; gratitude emerges as an attitude we can freely choose in order to create a better life for ourselves and for others. The Nigerian Hausa put it this way: Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.