Monday, July 8, 2013

Gratitude For the Office?

A colleague dropped by my office a few minutes ago. I asked how his 4th of July holiday weekend went and he said, "It was wonderful. I enjoyed every minute." I commented that all this enjoyment ended with coming back to the office on Monday morning. He then said "We are so fortunate to be in a place that has electricity, air conditioning, indoor plumbing and where we don't have to worry about Malaria."

To be thankful about being back in the office on Monday morning is a genuine expression of deep gratitude. It's easy to be grateful for leisure time and for good food, drink and company. Yet, true gratitude encompasses all dimensions of life: work as well as play, difficulties as well as joys, defeats was well as victories.

It's not that we are grateful for everything that happens to us. Giving thanks for cancer, violence or hatred doesn't make much sense. However, I believe we can be grateful in every circumstance. Gratitude is an inner perspective on what happens to us and to our world. Seeing life through the eyes of gratitude can be transforming.

So I'm going to work on cultivating a deeper and more persistent gratitude. I want to be able to give thanks in all circumstances and to have a gratitude that will stand up to defeat, disappointment and failure. I want to be able to be grateful even when I don't feel grateful.

This deep and resilient gratitude comes from believing that all of life is a gift, even the parts of life we don't like or enjoy. To be gratefully alive is to be able to affirm this giftedness of life. Gratitude isn't only about counting our blessings, but being thankful for the lessons taught by pain, disappointment and deprivation.