Read about Gratefulness

Below we offer essays, personal stories, and other select readings that inspire us to live more gratefully. If you would like to learn about gratefulness step-by-step, you can go to this index of articles to build your understanding. You can also explore our mini-course for a solid outline of resources and practice ideas, and you can take e-courses on grateful living.

Gratefulness and the Power of Radical Sufficiency - Kristi Nelson writes how “grateful living is an antidote to scarcity and insatiability. And it is radical because it establishes the only real, lasting conditions for generosity, kindness, compassion and the impulse to serve.”

How Universal Is Gratefulness?  A diverse array of quotes about gratefulness accompanies a description of why grateful living provides a universal ethic for our time.

Resources for Grateful Living Practice - This index is designed to help you go deeper into the rich benefits of practicing gratefulness.

Br. David, A Portrait
by Clare Hallward
Clare edited David Steindl-Rast, Essential Writings, part of Orbis Books' Modern Spiritual Masters Series. Her introduction paints a vivid picture of Br. David's life and work.
Part 1: Growing up in Austria
Part 2: Answering the Call
Part 3: Monastic Outreach
Part 4: The Response of Grateful Living

Grateful Living: A Reflection - After a dire cancer diagnosis, ANG*L Executive Director Kristi Nelson learned to "cultivate an intensification of the quality of her experiences" by living gratefully and practicing gratitude.

Thanksgiving Reflection - Myogen Steve Stücky's gratitude practice - especially in challenging times - starts with creating a field of positive energy by first naming what is nourishing.

My Son is Superman! - After the jarring news that his baby boy has Down's Syndrome, Jesh Krishna Murthy's devastation transforms into joy, love and gratitude for his special son.

The Three Pies - When she finds herself judging someone in a California coastal restaurant, Jalaja Bonheim decides to practice what she teaches about "heart-thinking" - and gets quite a surprise.

Meal Chant Stew - Through research, raising a family, and his years of practice at Tassajara Zen Center, Steven Harper has distilled an ancient blessing to its universal and inclusive essence.

Gratitude is Contagious - Camp director Richard Bernstein put out an empty mayonnaise jar with paper and pencils beside it and a suggestion to write thank you notes.  He never dreamed how full that jar would get and how it transformed the camp.

Grateful Heart, Joyful Heart
by James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander
From their book and course of the same name, Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Joy, this series comes from the chapter about cultivating gratitude, a "powerful ally to a joyful heart".
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Glass Half Empty
Part 3: Gratitude Squelchers
Part 4: Right Under Our Noses
Part 5: "Grace Disguised as Obstacles"
Part 6: Glass Half Full
Part 7: The Benefits of Gratitude
Part 8: Strengthening Your Gratitude Muscle
Part 9: The Gratitude Perspective
Part 10: Deepen Your Happiness Groove
Part 11: Scattering Gratitude Like Joy
Part 12: But I Can't Feel Grateful to Them
Part 13: It Would Have Been Enough...
Part 14: Open in Gratitude
Part 15: Thanks to Life the word NEW

Gratitude in Education:  A Radical View
by Kerry Howells
Exerpts from the introduction of Howell's book - the first comprehensive text that is solely dedicated to the specific relevance of gratitude to the teaching and learning process.
Part 1: Why Gratitude in Education?
Part 2: Why Gratitude?
Part 3: Why Gratitude in Education Now?
Part 4: A Way Forward

Gratefulness as the Foundation of Practice
by Rabbi Shefa Gold
Her days begin with a prayer of gratefulness: 
Modah Ani L'fanecha.  Rabbi Gold describes this practice and how it gives her the strength and clarity to face her challenges.

The Space between Givens
Here are quotes of reassurance if you have too much to do.

Living in Gratitude
by Angeles Arrien
In this introduction to her book, Angeles describes gratitude as a universal theme - transmitted through perennial wisdom - as the glue that holds society and individuals together.
Part 1: What is Gratitude?
Part 2: Four Universal Portals to Gratitude: Blessings, Learnings, Mercies, and Protections
Part 3: The Benefits of Gratitude in the Four Quadrants of Life
Part 4: Obstacles to Gratitude

The 100th Blessing
Br. David's 99 Blessings book sparked a contest to find the 100th blessing.  Read the moving array of submissions we received, starting with the contest winners.

Ten Simple Rules for Daily Living
by Pope John XXIII
In the spirit of 12-Step program guidance, these stirring intentions are meant "only for today."

Leaving Prison Before You Get Out
by Jacques Verduin
The GRIP (Guiding Rage into Power) Program examines the origins of destructive behavioral patterns that lead to transgressions and commits participants to a process of deep self-inquiry and healing.

Learning Life
by Catherine Garland
Everything has its own language, and there are multiple realities surrounding us.

Generosity and Gratitude 
by Stephen Sims, from
River of Awareness: Seeking the Wisdom of Love

A story of an inner journey - sparked by an accident on a river trip -that uncovers the depths of awareness and compassion.
Part 1: A Wounded Riverman
Part 2: Be in Love
Part 3: Law of Generosity
Part 4: The Degenerative Ego
Part 5: The Wounded Healer
Part 6: A Call to Compassion
Part 7: Making the Difference

One Amazing Pooch, by Dale Biron
In volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times we need an extra touch of inspiration.

On Gratitude
In the introduction to his book of interviews with many thankful celebrities, Todd Aaron Jensen tells us how his life changed when he started counting what he had instead of what he didn't have.

The How of Happiness
by Sonja Lubyorminsky
What can you do in your daily life to increase your happiness?  Scientific studies offer proven tips, and key amongst them is expressing gratitude.  This series includes:
Expressing Gratitude
Eight Ways Gratitude Boosts Happiness
How To Practice Gratitude

Gate 4-A
by Naomi Shihab Nye
In this remarkable account, what begins with frantic tears and a language barrier becomes an opportunity to recognize that "not everything is lost."

The Landscape that Laughs
by Lex Hixon, from Coming Home
According to Hasidic teachings, our own life, our own mind, our own dream is an open door to the Divine, since the universe is God’s Life. 
Part 1: Holy Ecstasy
Part 2: Understanding Suffering
Part 3: Guidance from Soul Masters
Part 4: Awakening to Our Divine Nature
Part 5: Spiritual Life on an Earthly Plane

To Give Is To Receive
by Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.
Those who cultivate gratitude have reason to celebrate every day.

The Sacred Space of the Shared Heart
by William Douglas Horden
Preserving our Global Village depends on our interdependence and honoring all lives as equal.

Surfing the Night
by Mary Lou Worster Anderson
You never know what might happen when you ask for a used computer airlifted into your apartment by a giant stork.

Bonnie's Bridge - an excerpt from Loving Grief
by Paul Bennett
It is a blessing when someone can help you feel your own way through what only your heart can process.  This passage from Paul Bennett's Loving Grief, accompanied by Elaine Mansfield's reflections, offers such a blessing.

Laid to Rest in the Arms of the Meadow:
A Grateful Tribute to Thomas Berry
by Clare Hallward
In the "almost limitless number of good companions found along the way," a few stand out, and Thomas Berry was one of them.

Gratitude Schmatitude
by Michele Wahlder, MS, LPC, PCC
How do you cultivate gratefulness when you are really not in the mood?  Here are some helpful tips for your practice.

Enjoying Life at a (Slightly) Slower Pace
by Barbara Lang
Hearing the words "freedom," "opportunity," and "cancer" in the same breath teaches us a lot about gratefulness.

Farewell Letter
by Fr. Raimundo Panikkar
Fr. Panikkar observes that the gift of life "is only such if lived in communion with others."

Frog Chant
by Roberta Jackson
A chance encounter with singing frogs turns a day beginning in worry and despair to one filled with grace and gratitude.

Crossing the Unknown Sea
by David Whyte, poet
How can we be grateful in the midst of exhaustion?

Twenty-Seven Things
by Meredith Jordan
Discover how the act of shedding many of your possessions can uncover what is truly authentic in your life.

Healing through Gratefulness:  A Film-viewing Adventure
by Francis G. Lu, M.D.
Whether you are a sophisticated film buff or simply enjoy the occasional movie night, you are in for an adventure when you view the brilliant films described here, each showing various facets of gratefulness.

The Idea Journeying with Us
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Written only two years after his five-year-old son died, this passage from Emerson speaks of a gradually discovered, tranquil inner terrain.

Power of Words: Hearing a book come alive
by Margaret Wakeley
Book on tape can open up a whole new world to readers, including but not limited to the blind and dyslexic.

A God-Centered Ecology
by Dr. Maria Jaoudi
Blessing has to do with an attitude of gratitude, whereby we awaken to the sacred always present in the myriad events of existence.  This series includes:
- The Garden of Life
- The Human Steward
- Enjoying Nature
- Francis
- Rabi'a

Ten Poems of Rengetsu
translated by Kaz Tanahashi and Joan Halifax Roshi
These ten poems touch upon the mystery of the heart with playfulness, poignancy, and penetrating insight.

Setting the Heart to Gratefulness
by Susan Mazrolle
Gratefulness can’t make pain go away.  And maybe it’s not meant to.

Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16
Join us in gratitude for Wisdom, radiant and unfading.

Within Our Reach:  Joy
by Fra Giovanni Giocondo
Fra Giovanni was a Renaissance pioneer, accomplished as an architect, engineer, antiquary, archaeologist, classical scholar, and Franciscan friar.  Today we remember him most for this reassuring letter.
You can also read Giovanni's text in German translation.

Women, Wisdom & Dreams
by Anne Scott
Br. David writes that "the very concept of women’s power is different from that of men.  Women’s power is the power to foster new life and growth. If more people would understand how this life-giving power differs from power over others, the world would be a more peaceful, healthy, and sane place. In this vein, Anne Scott’s Women, Wisdom and Dreams plays a vital role in empowering women."
- At Difficult Times, Dreams Arise, Shift and Change
- Creating Space

Selected Poems from Breaking the Drought
by Stephen Levine
"This awkward speck of dust"
"Seeing her face this morning..."
"There is an elemental love"
"Mother of us all"
"A different death"

"Evening Song"
by Fr. Dennis Grabrian
A prayer for the end of the day, when our connection to the Holy becomes more transparent, like the sky unveiling stars.

Noticing When Your Thoughts Argue with Reality
by Byron Katie
We show gratitude by learning to love what is, which naturally leads to loving action.

Authentic Appreciation
by Terry Pearce
Gratitude goes beyond "thank you" with specific, heartfelt experiences.

Being with Dying:  The Four Boundless Abodes
by Joan Halifax Roshi
The ultimate form of self-care is at all times available to us through cultivating four treasures: 
lovingkindness,
compassion,
sympathetic joy, and
equanimity.

O Spirit of Life and Renewal
by Jane Rzepka
Spring comes and hope blossoms again.

The Quagga and I
by Martha Kate Miller
This heartbreakingly beautiful script offers strength for a passage most of us eventually make.

Let Us Regain Our Sanity
by Swami Satchidananda
Even if only a few of us change our lives and learn to play with our varieties rather than fight about them, our efforts will go a long way towards creating a more grateful world.

Hymn to the Mother of Hope
by Patricia Carlson
A hymn that celebrates the turning seasons amidst that which has no beginning or end.

Initiating
by Barry Heermann
Initiating -- one of the steps on the path of Noble Purpose -- entails a rite of passage in which we are fundamentally changed, introduced to a trusting view of the universe.

Proverbs from the Young 
Surprising new proverbs coming from attempts by children to complete old ones.

Gratitude
by Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Gratitude is wide enough even to cover our own suffering.

Letter Concerning Her Pink Cactus
By Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
Have you ever experienced gratefulness through the lens of a single flower?

Personality Types & Gratefulness
by Torre Waag
The Enneagram is described as a fine-tuned tool for self-understanding.

Nurturing a Grateful Heart
By Kathy Hendricks
What can parents do to instill gratitude in their children?

If You Pull Up the Weeds
By Edda Hackl
It's not always easy to tell the good from the bad.

A "Beggar's" Gift: A Low Budget Affair
by Sister Mary José Hobday, OSF
"Even the lowliest among us have gifts to share."

Four Days of Thanksgiving
by Sister Mary José Hobday, OSF
Native American ritual of thanksgiving - can you imagine yourself giving thanks for four solid days?

Nowhere Else But Here
By Cheryl F. McGinnis
A teacher describes her journey from head to heart.

Running in the Rain, from the Rain, to the Rain
By James Behrens
Behrens offers us a glimpse of fearlessness in the storms of life.

A Relationship of Compassion
By Mariah Fenton Gladis
If you have ever wondered what it means to live gratefully in the midst of illness or infirmity, you will appreciate Gladis' thoughts.

Return to Prayer
By Dr. Larry Dossey
How does prayer fit into the practice of modern medicine? Explore the impressive body of evidence showing that prayer works.

Quotes from Sri Sarada Devi
This tribute draws us into the heart of Sarada Devi's message:  "If you want peace, do not see the faults of others.  Rather learn to make the whole world your own. No one is a stranger."

Gratefulness: A Source of Strength
By Dietrich Bonhoeffer
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer reflects on the transformative power of gratefulness during grief.

Wideness and Wonder
By Georgia O'Keeffe
Excerpts from an exhibition catalog which show the breadth of O'Keeffe's spirit.

Religious Values and Human Society
by H.H. Dalai Lama
When we develop a right attitude of compassion and gratitude, we take a giant step towards solving our personal and international problems.

Meeting the Dalai Lama
by Nanci Rose
To meet someone whose being radiates gratitude is an extraordinary experience.

God's Maternal Love
by D.N. Rowan
We can keep giving, spreading strength and calm, embodying that exquisite balance of wisdom and compassion of a maternal Buddha, or a maternal Christ.

Piecin' a Quilt's Like Livin' a Life
by Eliza Calvert Hall
Our gratitude is measured by what we do with what we're given, as Hall expresses in her down-to-earth quilt analogy.

Digging a Hole Big Enough to Sit In
by Twylah Nitsch
The Seneca Nation's grateful philosophy emphasizes the meticulous care we need to offer our Earth.

The Grateful Company
by Ron Loeb
By the generous application of a simple principle called  “gratefulness,” the world might change in incredible ways.

Thanksgiving: Key to Peace and Happiness
By Dr. K.L. Seshagiri Rao
Dr Rao, a Hindu scholar, examines our relation to God and to each other.

Rabia Al-Adawiyya: Selected Readings
"How long will you keep pounding on an open door?" ask Rabia, an eighth-century Sufi saint from Basra, Iraq.

The Marathon Monks
After a marathon of 27,000 miles -- more than 50 miles per day -- what would be foremost on your mind?

Waterfall of Ineffable Delight
By Beatrice of Nazarath
"It happens sometimes that a sweet and joyful love is awakened in the heart ."

Movin' On Up (excerpt)
By Mahalia Jackson
A song must do something for me as well as for the people that hear it.

O Mother of Rain, Rain Upon Us
Chant of Rwala Bedouin Women
Sometimes anticipated gratefulness expresses itself as a heartfelt call for what we truly need.

Seeing with the Inner Eye
By Mary Caroline Richards
What appears as dry, wrinkled, and old may surprise us when viewed through the inner eye.

Selected Quotes on Essential Oneness
By Myrtle Fillmore
Can you be dissatisfied and grateful at the same time?  Here's a positive slant on restlessness.


Other Readings:

Brother David Steindl-Rast - A complete index of Brother David's many essays online.

Poetry - Let yourself view gratefulness through the poetic sensitivities of Mary Oliver, William Stafford, Seamus Heaney, and many others.

Questions about Grateful Living - Read responses to visitors' questions on topics ranging from shattered dreams to jealousy's good side.

Gift People - Why not let your own life be turned inside-out by the inspiration of people who followed their dreams?

Writings by Friends - Friends often send us poems, essays, stories, and prayers which we would like to share with you on this page.

Deutsche Texte (readings in German)