'How can I ever thank you?' feels like a question from a bygone era. It's a question a friend asked me many years ago when I stepped in to care for her children when she was ill. It's a question I have asked many times during my life upon receiving help. This question is often uttered in an almost breathless manner, as if the speaker is overcome with gratitude and desperation to offer something in return, despite feeling there is nothing they could offer to repay such kindness. 'How can I ever thank you?' resonates deeply with me these days.
As the calendar turns to November, and my thoughts turn to Thanksgiving, I find myself feeling abundantly grateful - for my vital blessings of good health, plentiful and nutritious food, financial security, a place to call home, and the people in my life - as well as for the smaller things we often overlook - sunny days, beach walks, the deliciousness of coffee, the contagion of laughter, and so on. I find myself experiencing the same breathless sense of wonder at how I could possibly be worthy of these blessings and at what I could possibly offer in return. Gratitude has a way of making us to want to give more, not out of duty, rather because the joy it brings urges us to want to do more to create more joy for others and for ourselves.
Often when we face difficult times, gratitude can be elusive, because the things for which we are grateful are overshadowed by the things which bring challenge. Yet, expressing gratitude during difficult times is one of the best ways to bring us back to a place of peace and even joy. This may simply be because we are changing the focus of our attention to our blessings, as much as it is the fact that we are expressing gratitude. Whether we express gratitude to a person, to the cosmos or destiny, or to a God or greater being, we will feel the power of its presence, and our focus will again turn to all that is good in life. Gratitude is a powerful force.
JOY: What My Heart Taught Me was written over a period of years, and each passage was born of observations on how joy is the root of wellbeing, regardless of what life brings. It is a book that could have easily explored many more lessons leading to this conclusion; in fact, had I continued to write, it may never have been published. Gratitude is one topic that doesn't have its own chapter in the book - not because its significance wasn't apparent to me until after the book was published, but rather because its significance was so apparent in everything else that I never quite knew how to capture it on its own.
As Thanksgiving approaches, and as I have been experiencing gratitude as a healing and joy-creating element in my life almost more than ever recently, I felt compelled to address it specifically. Give Gratitude a try. Allow yourself to feel and express it for all things great and small in your life, and cherish the joy it will bring and the impact it will have on your own path. Gratitude, more than almost anything else, will lead you to joy .
author of "JOY"