Watch as adults hand things to kids and say, “Say thank you,” or later, “what do you say?”

Albeit in a rote form, this is kids learning about a polite form of gratitude. But where does real gratitude spring from, where does it lead to, and what does it nourish?

This last year has been a very tough one for millions and millions of people. Coming hard on the heels of a global pandemic, in a world where anyone with a modicum of reason sees that Climate Change, wars, and societal attacks waged by authoritarians are all too real existential threats. So, I hear and understand when people say, what have I to be grateful for?

Indeed, on a personal level, this year has been hard and at the very edge of what I thought I could deal with, but it has brought gratitude. And the love that fuels it and flows from it that has raised me and carried me through. I would even say that I am a better person because of it all.

So many times, when my loved ones have been ill or faced dark moments, I wanted to take these things on myself and not have them go through it.  Now, although this is my default mode, I see different ways.  

I found that being truly grateful for them and their love let me be right there in the moment for them. And as they went through the challenges and healed, they grew, and that filled me with gratitude for the love that, at the very heart of all our beings, carries and nourishes us.

When I sit and meditate and pray, I always begin by saying, out loud or silently, thank you. In these moments, I feel wrapped in the love that life offers us, breath after breath and heartbeat after heartbeat. I have always felt that I have been wonderfully blessed, and I would honestly not change places with anyone, and these moments bring it powerfully home to me.

So, I would say to anyone who struggles to feel grateful, just sit, for a moment or for a few minutes. Follow your breath and slowly but surely, let your heart open in the stillness. 

It may start with just a tiny sense of peace and well-being, but it will blossom if you let it. Be ready for it because when you start to feel it, it will fill your soul, and you will know that you are loved unreservedly and unconditionally. Feel it and be who you are, and your world will change, often dramatically because there is nothing more powerful than love. 

For me, gratitude is loving life right back.