Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I like to think that I live a life of gratitude. But recently, a wise friend of mine brought to my attention just how much I have to be grateful for.

“So E,” he began, “I’m doing a workshop on gratitude and I was hoping you could help me out.”

“Absolutely,” I told him. “Happy to help any way I can.” Having given a lot of workshops myself, and as a writer with some graphic skill, I assumed it would be along those lines. “Just tell me what you need.”

He said he’d like some help with the graphics side mostly, designing the layout for the handouts and a little help with editing. He didn’t go into a lot of details then, he said he just wanted to give me a “heads up” that it was coming.

Our conversation drifted along hitting this topic and that. Sort of catching up on family news and stuff. Almost all in the form of questions that didn’t require much discussion in the answer.

Did I still like the Toyota? Was I doing any more painting? Any new books of interest I’d added to our library? How was our lawyer-daughter doing? Did I still like our long back yard? How were my workouts going on my gym machine?

It was a real hodge-podge of things he seemed to want to make small-talk about. My answers were, for the most part, very positive. And we talked for about an hour, nonchalantly changing topics almost every minute. But it felt very natural as we were going through it.

Then he looked at me with a very serious expression, and he asked, “How often do you express gratitude for all those things?”

“What?” I asked. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant.

“When you first set up your gym machine, are you grateful you have it?” he said.

“Not really,” I told him. “It’s just there and I use it.”

“Or how about that Calphalon One cookware you always rave about. Do you ever express thankfulness for it and for how well it works?”

“Well, not any more,” I said, feeling a little weird.

“Or when you needed a new blade for your lawn mower, did you appreciate your ability to run up to the store and just buy one? And once you installed it, were you grateful for how much better it cut the grass?”

“Where are you going with this, Vic?” I asked.

“Most of us live lives of unrequited appreciation for what we have,” he said. “We have stuff, but we don’t really appreciate it on a daily basis. Or even a weekly basis. Heck, most of us are happy at the moment we get the thing, but then the thankfulness quickly fades into the background.”

I had to agree with him as I started thinking about all the answers I had given to all the questions he had asked earlier. Then he asked me to do an exercise just before I went to bed that night. For twenty-one minutes, write down everything, big and small, new and old, everything I could think of, maybe even things I hadn’t thought about in years, for which I was thankful.

So I did. And I was amazed.

By the end of the time, or maybe a little over the time, I had written down 287 things. Most of which I did not give much thought to or appreciation for any more. I was shocked, and maybe a little ashamed. There was too much I was taking for granted.

My life of gratitude got a big boost that night.

And I am grateful to Vic for the help.

1 comment:

  1. i think if the universe is listening i want to tell it ... HELP!