by Virginia Harris, C.S.B.
Posted: 28 Jul 2015 04:43 PM PDT
Grateful, deeply grateful.
This is how I felt upon reading David Brooks’ insightful and very uplifting New York Times column on “The Structure of Gratitude.” Judging by how fast the column was liked and shared among my Facebook friends and friends of friends, the ideas in this column resonated across a diverse spectrum of individuals. I was not alone in my appreciation!
In a country that as actually institutionalized gratitude with a national day of Thanksgiving every November, it seemed a little surprising how much Brooks’ ideas have inspired all this sharing. Then again, there were some profound observations of inherent human caring.
From my perspective, I was deeply touched by the insight of the importance of humility in preparing the heart to be grateful. Brooks wrote,
“Gratitude happens when some kindness exceeds expectations, when it is undeserved…people with dispositional gratitude take nothing for granted. They take a beginner’s thrill at a word of praise, at another’s good performance or at each sunny day.”
Is this not a true state of grace…a constant state of loving consciousness to appreciate what has been done, and then do for others regardless of return? Shouldn’t this state of grace be prized and practiced above all else?
Mary Baker Eddy, a frequent contributor to the national and international news periodicals of her day, also wrote about the importance of humility and gratitude:
“We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves…Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good…”
Brooks continues to describe how essential and meaningful gratitude is to the quality of our daily life:
“Gratitude is also a form of social glue…a debt of gratitude is repaid forward, to another person who also doesn’t deserve it…this society would fall apart if not for another economy, one in which gifts surpass expectations, in which insufficiency is acknowledged and dependence celebrated.”
Yes, of course – this is the Golden Rule economy!