Reconsidering Gratitude


This holiday week, I find myself simultaneously looking forward to a potluck meal with dear friends, yet also annoyed about this particular American tradition. The following posts from two of my favorite sources address my sentiments so eloquently, that I wanted to share them with you:

My business mentor, Mark Silver, of Heart of Business, states “This is the week of U.S. Thanksgiving, which is a highly controversial holiday in my book. On one hand, there’s family tradition, delicious food, and a real calling to gratitude. On the other hand, there is a dark and bloody history of colonization and genocide of the original peoples on what is now called the North American continent.

Living in the U.S. is not an easy thing for the heart.

Where do you go from here? Part of the paradox of living in western culture is the simultaneous gratitude for all that we have and the enormous grief it’s cost to get here.

Guilt is not useful in this instance, if it provokes navel-gazing and paralysis. I want to encourage you to embrace gratitude for all that you have. AND embrace the grief. Grief is useful and real, and out of grief can come real, inspiring action.

This week, especially if you’re in the U.S., be gentle, enjoy the good things you have, and make space for grief as needed.”

And to take this a step further, Kristi Nelson, the Executive Director of one of my very favorite online sources,, distinguishes between grateful living and gratitude. She believes that gratitude is transactional—resulting from an exchange (such as when someone gives you something), with an addictive quality to it because you need more experiences or exchanges to feel more gratitude.

Grateful living or gratefulness, by contrast, is foundational. It is the place where you start. Gratefulness is in the middle of any experience (including loss and illness), which is very different than gratitude. Some questions she offers include:

What opportunity is here for me?

What can I learn from this moment?

What can I offer or teach in this moment?

Can I experience the great-fullness of possibility in this moment?

I’ll close by sharing these beautiful Blessings from around the world; I will print them out and keep them nearby as year round reminders, something you might consider as well.

Deep recognition to you and yours, and for this Journey we all share!


P.S. If you would like support in deepening your appreciation and strengthening your connection, please contact me for more information about Life Mentoring, available live or by phone or Skype.