Breaking it down to the simplest term, it means to remember to say thank you.
There are many avenues leading to a life of gratitude. A path suggested to me by a rabbi friend, years ago, was to say 100 blessings a day. Thank you for everything that happened in my life. Blessings before a meal or after is a good habit to get you started to say thank you. One is through meditation, connecting with a source greater than yourself. Maybe it is lighting a candle or planting a bush in remembrance of a love one. Remember, a divine source doesn’t need our blessings, our thanks, our recognition of existence, we do.
So here is my recommendation. Starting tomorrow morning, when you wake up, when you realize you are alive for another day, say “thank you.” It doesn’t need to be said to anyone, anything, just put it out into the universe. Then take a moment and feel grateful.
That is step one. Now, start noticing the miracles you find going through your daily routine. It can start with thanking someone for holding a door open for you. Stop and take the time to let them know how much you appreciate this simple gesture. Or the moment could be seeing a beautiful butterfly, a new flower blooming, a rainbow after a rain storm, the birth of a child, or just seeing a bright smile on a friend’s face. It doesn’t have to be something big. It probably won’t be something big. It should be something that is just there, something that is just happening, something that is a part of your everyday life.
Now take that moment and recognize it. Recognize when it happens without you doing anything. It just happens. This is a gratitude moment.
If you get into the habit of recognizing these moments, and if you get in the habit of saying thank you, you are on your way.
So, why all this talk about gratitude? What does this have to do with spirituality? Everything and nothing. Being grateful can take you from being a non-believer to someone who finds a path to start seeking something greater than yourself. This might be the moment you need to find that “greater than yourself” thing.
Have you ever been greeted by someone who looks you in your eyes, bows very slightly and says “Nameste”? Did you stop and ask what that was all about? Do you know what it means and why it is done? This gesture is someone saying, in gesture and words, I recognize a divine spark in you. What a great form of gratitude. Recognizing that the “other”, the one we meet along the way has a spark of divinity in them and that we acted upon it or that someone recognized it in us and acted on it is an act of gratitude.
Remember, there are no wrong answers, no wrong paths, and no wrong experiences.
I start my day with a prayer that begins with “Modah” – I am grateful. How will you begin tomorrow morning? However, you do it, may it be the beginning of a practice that puts a smile on your face and fills your heart.
May the upcoming holidays bring you all you seek. May they give you a reason to be grateful.