After the year we’ve had, the time we’re currently having, you want me to think about what I’m grateful for? Seriously?
Seriously. It took me a long time to learn this, but you don’t have to be happy to be grateful. In fact, gratitude actually is one of the quickest, surest, longest-lasting ways to find your happiness and maintain your equilibrium when they’ve gone missing.
Cicero, a leader who lived in Rome 2000 years ago thought that gratitude is so important, it’s actually the virtue that gives rise to all other virtues. Contemporary teacher Inyanla Vanzant says that gratitude is so basic we don’t have to have anything or do anything in order to be grateful, because gratitude is a state of being.
Gratitude is also key to our resilience. Singer Lena Horne reminded us, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it. Carry it by the comfortable handles of gratitude for what is positive and that it’s not worse, rather than the uncomfortable edges of bitterness for the negatives and that it is not better.”
Our gratitude connects us in deep and solid ways. Michelle Obama said that when she was a child, “We learned about gratitude and humility—that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our schools clean…and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.” Gratitude can be the birthplace of our resilience and trustworthy solidarity with others.
Gratitude can help us find and rest in a sense of assurance, a deep sense of peace and of being alright. Toni Morrison said, “At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.” The world’s beauty can sustain us through the most chaotic and uncertain of times.