More on Gratitude

In today’s NY Times, there is a review of “The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude,” “The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude,” due to be published this month. Since I’ve written about gratitude, and think about it quite a bit, I found this intriguing enough to share.

In “The Gift of Thanks,” however, Ms. Visser is most interested in the kind of gratitude that is not compulsory or self-interested. She writes about the humility required to be genuinely grateful, and the essential ability to climb out of one’s own head.

“Gratitude is always a matter of paying attention,” she writes, of “deliberately beholding and appreciating the other.”

Gratitude is, fundamentally, about not taking things for granted, a kind of worldview. “Gratitude arises from a specific circumstance — being given a gift or done a favor — but depends less upon that,” Ms. Visser writes, “than on the receiver’s whole life, her character, upbringing, maturity, experience, relationships with others, and also on her ideals, including her idea of the sort of person she is or would like to be.”

This is a much bigger concept than I had previously considered. Maybe it’s not enough to be grateful at a spiritual level. Perhaps it takes much more deliberate, thoughtful effort to be truly thankful for a particular event or object when considered in context.

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