Some Thoughts on Gratitude

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I find myself thinking more and more about gratitude and the role it plays in our lives. Most of us can easily identify big moments of gratitude whether in the form of protection; a near miss of a collision while driving, a clean and clear outcome on a health screening, the birth of a healthy baby, as well as things going our way with promotions/salary increases, getting accepted to our top college pick, approval on the financing for the purchase of our dream house. But what about the quieter, more subtle moments? How many of us truly begin and end our days with consistent thoughts of gratitude? What about the spaces in between. How often do we notice all the objects in our midst that help accommodate our lives? I love what Mr. Iyengar says about attachment (raga), the fusion and over identification between the ego and an object in it’s possession. It is so easy to become attached to objects due to status, beauty or even deep personal meaning. Iyengar advises that the correct attitude to our possessions is gratitude, not ownership. For example toward our car we are grateful that it transports us safely and allows us to see places we would not otherwise have seen, rather than being an extension of self, displaying status, style or privilege. This computer I’m typing on is an instrument of communication and a means of expression instead of the slickest new technology I’m cool enough to posses. Whether it is “my” car or computer is irrelevant.

In India there is a annual ceremony in which participants garland their household objects and thank them for the service they render. This ritual conveys a belief that they “borrow” the object’s services for a certain time and are grateful. It’s a lovely practice and may prove helpful in reminding us that we are not the sum of our stuff, yet we remain consciously and consistently grateful for the service they provide and the ease they bring.