Daily Beauty, Day #28: Thankfulness

In a way, this has been an undertone of many of my posts, but I really want to emphasize the importance and the beauty of thankfulness.

I think all too often we see thankfulness only as something that we should do. It becomes a duty, a rote reminder of the things we have that we should not take for granted. In striving to be thankful for our blessings, we actually invite guilt. We scold ourselves for wanting or complaining when there are so many other things for which we should feel grateful.

Comparisons are never productive. If we rank our own fortunes as less than the fortunes of those around us, we may feel unsatisfied and like our circumstances are unfair. If we feel that we are far more fortunate than others, we can easily fall into the trap of guilt: guilt for enjoying pleasures which others are denied.

Neither of these two attitudes are healthy, and neither of them will bring peace or happiness. In fact, I think that both are contrary to the spirit of thankfulness, no matter their intentions. When we experience gratitude, it is really a thing of beauty. Gratitude is the appreciation of God’s gifts. But when God gives to us, He does not give unfairly. He does not withhold good things from us, and He also does not expect us to feel ashamed or to refrain from enjoying good things. God gives to us individually, possessing perfect knowledge of what we need and of the deepest dreams and desires of our heart.

Thankfulness is about giving thanks for what God has given us, without viewing these gifts on a scale next to different gifts we were not given. Each life is filled with different blessings and this diversity and richness of experience is beautiful. When we begin to see our world in this way, gratitude is no longer a duty but another blessing, an opportunity to see what is beautiful in the world and to focus on this beauty rather than on our fears, dissatisfactions or shortcomings.

Gratitude is a gift. And by giving thanks, we not only give to God, but we also give to ourselves, cultivating a spirit of joy and love and beauty that allows us to transcend the anxieties and disappointments of life to lift our souls closer to their Source.