The English language is interesting, isn’t it? Look at the difference between the words “thankful” and “grateful”. Simply put, “thankful” means “full of thanks” while “grateful” implies an innate appreciation for the intangible (love, friendship, health, etc.). It’s an attitude or a state of being that transcends thankfulness. In a nutshell, we are thankful in the moment and grateful for a lifetime. So, what is it we celebrate this week—thankfulness, gratefulness, or all of the above? The Thanksgiving holiday fills us with an overwhelming sense of thanks for the food on our table and the company that sits around it. Gratitude makes us want to go above and beyond to celebrate the joys of life itself.
Over the past few years, our world has experienced many high points and low points. In watching the news, it’s likely easier to recount the lows than the highs—natural disasters, human-induced disasters, medical crises, and more. Seeing the pain our sisters and brothers around the world have experienced has the propensity to create fear, hatred, anger, and trepidation. It’s easy to get lost in those emotions and stay there. But true gratitude asks us to look for the good—in all of it. To see that love emerges from the rubble; that people come together to feed the hungry and clothe those in need. Although the pain exists, it fuels something else as well—the desire to help our neighbors—near and far—on a far deeper and more meaningful level than ever before. Where hatred exists, so too does love. That is the way of the Tao. Love will surpass all.
This Thanksgiving, when your family and friends gather around the table, look for the good—in all of it. Take time to reflect on what is closest to your heart. How can thankfulness for your current gifts translate into deep gratitude for life itself? Can that gratitude push you to go beyond—beyond your family, friends, and inner circle—to help those that truly need to feel the warmth of your presence in their lives?