This is the time of year we reflect on our blessings. This year, I’m grateful for the start of the Single Flower Zen Center. I’m grateful to Buddhamouse, the Claremont Forum, and Open Door for hosting us at a low cost. I’m grateful for each person who’s come to practice. I’m grateful for the Dharma, and to everyone who’s passed it on from the Buddha’s time until now. I’m grateful for you. For my next breath. For this moment. And for so much more.
This Thanksgiving, you may want to try going around the table and letting each person express one thing they’re thankful for. Or, you can ask people to write it down on a slip of paper anonymously, then draw and read the papers during or after the meal.
But this isn’t the only time we should remember to be grateful. You can start writing down things as they happen over the next year, putting them onto bits of paper – perhaps some colored or patterned paper that makes you smile. Put the papers in a jar or box. Then next year at Thanksgiving, you can review the wonderful things that have come your way. (Or you could start this on New Year’s Day, too, and review it each New Year’s Eve.)
Personally, I keep a gratitude journal. Every day, I answer these three questions from M.J. Ryan’s book Attitudes of Gratitude:
- What am I grateful for?
- What did I enjoy today?
- Where do I feel satisfied?
Or you could use this list from Seventeenth Century Dutch Rabbi Baruch Spinoza:
- Who or what inspired me today?
- What brought me happiness today?
- What brought me comfort and deep peace today?
Try not to repeat the same list from day to day. I’ve been doing a daily gratitude practice since 2010 – even during my breast cancer journey – and it truly has given me a better perspective on life.
Now it’s your turn. What are you grateful for?