Too Much Thankfulness

Decent Essays

I’ve been hearing a lot about this thankfulness thing. I can’t get away from it. It started with Thanksgiving. Before digging in to a big Thanksgiving feast at my daughter’s house, we all took turns saying something for which we were thankful. My grandkids loved the idea so much, that they have continued the practice of naming something they are thankful for every night before dinner. They look forward to it.

Then one day last week, while driving home during rush hour traffic I heard a story on the radio about a monk named David Steindl-Rast who believes that gratitude is the key to happiness. He was quoted as saying, “We all know people who have lots of misfortunes that we ourselves would not want to have, and they are deeply happy, they radiate happiness,” he says. Why are they like this? “Because they are grateful. It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”

I had just finished reading a book set in World War I, in which one of the characters was a soldier who served as an ambulance driver. His job was to drive into the middle of the battlefield, pick up wounded soldiers, and take them to the army field hospital. In the midst of all the horror, pain, and death of war, this man tasked himself with finding beauty in the otherwise bleak and dismal landscape of war. When he found something beautiful, he wrote it down in a notebook he carried. He had noted a flower struggling to poke through the trampled earth, a soldier’s

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