The Art of Gratitude


It’s such an odd piece of advice, I always first think, “Oh no, not this again” — easily deflating to the ego, and therefore so quickly critiqued. Listing five things for which you are thankful. 

I find a certain amount of paradox in actively participating in the art of gratitude, at least in the beginning. Quite often my circumstances of life feel so goddamn opulently transfixed and without challenge that to enumerate and list off any subjects or objects or circumstances from which my gratitude is reflexively derived generates a large surplus of guilt. As in, I owe too great a debt of … oh, there it is, I owe a debt of gratitude that I can’t even quite begin to make any payments on the principal, let alone work off the interest I’ve been accumulating on all of these things that have generally gone well.

Gratitude? From me? I mean, obviously. For, like, everything. But to genuflect, even just to list a few simple things out? Nope. That’s an institutional practice for those who don’t have, as a balm against suffering.

Too embarassed by how many things I could be grateful for, that I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Too prideful to be grateful.

Too many things to potentially list and profess and thank, that I’m stuck in a paradox of choice, from which no option feels like the right place to begin naming five of these things and be specific? Which five things, let alone first thing? That I could be somehow wrong in any reflection of circumstance.

Is it possible that I feel too worthy of gratitude, that I can’t even bring myself to the precipice of undertaking an action that doesn’t have a wrong answer, driven by my overwhelming need to always have a right and clever answer?

As if any index of treasures big and small would be a fiction, listed in the copyright section; any bearing or relation to real gratitudinal objects in life is merely coincidental.

Or were that I so destitute that I couldn’t find a single grain of sand for which to be thankful, too busy fumbling in empty pockets to notice that I have pockets.

So perhaps it’s not about making the perfect list, but about noticing that there is a list to be made no matter the circumstance. From either perspective, the practice of thanking and a named thing, is the art of an appreciation against which all pride and suffering can diffuse.

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