Gratitude: I’m working on it. It seems that outside the month of November where Thanksgiving is nestled, our culture isn’t a particularly grateful one. We’re consumers by economy, and as a result we’re constantly told to want more, acquire more, dream of more. While there is nothing wrong with more— of the right thing, that is– it can often lead us to feel dissatisfied with our now.
Aaron and I recently decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International— a program that connects vulnerable children with people who desire to be a part of those children’s journeys. Compassion’s sponsorship program has been vetted by research after many years in operation, and I am so excited to share more about this partnership once I start learning more. Our little friend’s name is Santiago and he lives in Mexico. He’ll be turning 5 years old in June!
Back to gratitude: it’s hard to cultivate. I find that often the inspiration to be grateful is based on guilt– our lives are so much better than those of others (perhaps my life compared with Santiago’s) and I am supposed to remember to feel grateful for all the conveniences and luxuries I enjoy.
But gratitude really should not require comparing your situation with someone else’s so that yours doesn’t look so bad. Instead, it’s a manner of acknowledging that while nothing is for certain and that we are far less deserving than we seem to think, good things have come our way. Somehow, despite the offenses we’ve committed, the mistakes we’ve made, or the misfortune we’ve experienced, we still live and breathe in a world in which purpose can be found. That’s worth celebrating.
Building practices: why we need habits
If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know that I’m a proponent of both ideological change and habitual change. Without one, we can’t really have the other. Our actions are shaped by our desires, just as our desires are shaped by our actions.
So when it comes to gratitude, I don’t think we can just wait until we “feel it.” Instead, we can train ourselves into habits that help us see the realities we hope to see– the myriad blessings in our lives, the good work to which we are called, the truth that sets us free.