Practicing Gratitude

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” Meister Eckhart

It’s a spiritual discipline that doesn’t require a special season; however, this time of year usually generates an intentional examen of all that we are grateful for.  Brother David Steindle-Rast, a Benedictine monk considered to be the leading spiritual expert on the discipline of gratitude, writes: “it is not happiness that makes us grateful, it is gratefulness makes us happy.”  He suggests that we that we build “stop signs” into our day.  That we intentionally STOP and get quiet; that we LOOK – open our senses for the richness given to us and our hearts for the opportunity to bring happiness to others; and then GO and do something – whatever life offers at the moment.  You can hear more of Brother David’s thoughts on gratitude here.

Robert Emmons, a leading scientific experts writes in his article “Why Gratitude is Good” that there are two components of gratitude: (1) gratitude is an affirmation of goodness and (2) the sources of gratitude are outside of ourselves.  He recognizes the challenges to cultivating gratitude and advocates (as do others) for keeping a gratitude journal.  You can read more about his thoughts and listen to some of his talks here.

The positive spiritual, emotional, psychological, social, and physical benefits of gratitude for all ages are plentiful and well documented.   Are you looking for some ways to promote and practice gratitude? Here are some helpful resources and links:


Thank you, God by J. Bradley Wigger, illustrated by Jago.  A celebration of family and friends, of homes and food to share, and the wonder of creation.  (all ages)

Gratitude Soup by Olivia Rosewood. Violet the purple fairy learns how to make Gratitude Soup by thinking about all the things, people, places she’s thankful for and placing them in an imaginary soup pot. (ages pre-school – grade 3) This is the Day, That the Lord Has Made  (1:36) A familiar song to many with wonderful images. Thank you Lord for Making Me (2:47) A cute and catchy song for young ones.

FOR FAMILIES: An article by Nadia Swearingen-Friesen reflecting on gratitude as Thanksgiving draws near. Make a Thankfulness Tree or select anyone of the many ideas offered for Thanksgiving as well as the theme of gratitude.

FOR ADULTS: Brenè Brown on the relationship between joy and gratitude. (2:57) Br.David Steindle-Rast opens us to the wonders of all that is around us. (5:22)  “Gratitude” by Louie Schwartzberg and narrated by Brother David Steindle-Rast (6:00) very similar to “A Grateful Day “with different images. A blog that offers space to light a candle,  daily reflection, record an entry in a personal gratitude journal and send an e-card message of care or gratitude to someone.


“Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior.” Anne Lamott