How do you experience and cultivate gratitude in your life?

When do you feel gratitude, and what happens before it?

It seems to me that there are two kinds of gratitude: the you-should-feel-grateful kind (because you have food to eat while the starving children of X don’t) and the kind where you actually feel grateful to be alive.

One is imposed and is tinged with guilt, while the other arises from inside. I’m more interested in the latter.

I’m thinking of George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. He goes through an ordeal where he sees life as if he had never been born. He sees the people he knows, but no one recognizes him. Clarence the Angel shows George how the people of his town are worse off for not having known him. George is so miserable, he’s about ready to do away with himself, when…

Watch George’s gratitude in this YouTube video.

That’s some gratitude, huh? What’s your favorite movie depiction of gratitude?

Many many years ago, during a crisis, I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. It seemed that life was closing in on me, and I did not have the resources to handle it.

Then one day I realized the pressure had lessened. I was handling it to the best of my ability, and I wasn’t alone. Some of the weight lifted, and I felt tremendous gratitude.

That gratitude was not just an attitude, but a deep reconnection with life as it is (was) that permeated my whole being. It was like being smitten with the present moment, and with everything that crossed my path. That gratitude had a large measure of joy in it.

Yeah. That kind of gratitude. If you could bottle it up and sell it, you’d make a fortune.

Do you cultivate gratitude in your life? I do. I can close my eyes and ask myself:

What if I didn’t exist?

When I open my eyes, I feel grateful. I am in the right place at the right time. I am here now in this brand new moment.

I also believe that another side effect of sitting is that I experience more gratitude/joy. (Really, could you have one without the other? I think probably not.) Since sitting is really about fully getting present with yourself, I guess it’s not surprising. I just didn’t know that’s what sitting was all about when I started.

How do you experience and cultivate gratitude in your life?

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