Young@Heart: Gratitude is the Key to Happiness

When was the last time you thanked your big toes? If you haven’t thanked them lately, then I’ll bet you’ve never thanked your pancreas (out of sight out of mind). I really don’t know that much about the inner workings of my body, but I can still be thankful for the trillions of tasks going on in it even though I don’t know what they are.

You sure don’t need more to add to your “to do” lists with the holidays just around the block, but you can get in the habit of being thankful while you’re doing other tasks. For instance, while you’re in the shower as you wash each body part, love it and thank it. Then, while you dry off your parts thank them again. It’s fun to thank your feet as you put socks and shoes on them and as you dress and groom each part of you, it’s enjoyable to fill your awareness with thanksgiving. Thankfulness is a habit and it’s quite fun to mentally become aware of what a gift your body is.

Just think, we “get” to appreciate! Gratitude is one of God’s graces. But it takes practice not to take things for granted. In the religion I was raised in, we didn’t say grace at the table because we were supposed to “always” be in a state of appreciation, so not to make a big deal about food. It did cause me to adopt a very strong attitude of thanksgiving that has served me well in the form of happiness.  I’m not against saying grace, I think it’s wonderful for a family to pray before they eat together as long as those prayers have not become habit and thereby have lost their meaning. I’ve heard too many graces said, that were just words.

Albert Schweitzer said, “As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins. He went on to say, To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kindness that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.”

I recently read about a woman who went to India. She said, “I was astounded that everywhere I looked, people appeared happy. It didn’t’ seem to matter if they didn’t have a lot of money or were living in poverty, they still had amazing attitudes.” When she got home, she said she began to think about how often she had complained about her life and the visit to India caused her to see what a gift we have just to live in our country. Her heart was filled with gratitude.

As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving here in America let’s practice being grateful for our lives just as they are and that we live in such a wonderful country where we’re free to pursue happiness which is a given when we are thankful.

My friend Mark Sotkin (or maybe it was Socrates) said that every morning his first thought is, “I’m so thankful I’m me. I love my life and I’m glad I don’t want to be anyone else.” Let’s be thankful that we don’t have to live somebody else’s life! Brother David Steindl-Rast said, “Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy — because we will always want to have something else or something more.”

Surround yourself with grateful people and practice feeling grateful for the unfathomably mysterious entity called you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my Young@Heart. I’m very grateful for you and I’d like to give you a gift. It’s one of my favorite chapters from my latest book, The Joy of Being Disorganized. I’ve received so much feedback on that chapter, because it’s about decluttering a whole new way. Did you know when you’re grateful, you reduce clutter because you’re less inclined to drag something home you thought you just had to have!? Clutter starts at the cash register! Here’s my free chapter There Arose Such a Clutter.

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