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“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” – Brother Steindl-Rast

“If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful. If you’re not fearful, you’re not violent,” says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, in his TEDTalk. “The root of joy is gratefulness."

Gratitude can change the world, he says. “If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of ‘enough’ instead of scarcity, and you’re willing to share.” When we’re feeling grateful, we enjoy a sense of people’s differences and respect them, he adds.

So how do we achieve this sense of gratitude?

“We have to build stop signs into our lives.” Steindl-Rast calls for us to find a method to live gratefully rather than feeling gratitude once in a while. In other words, we need to find a way to sustain the feelings of Thanksgiving week throughout the year.

He compares his recommended method to what we learned as children about crossing the street: “stop, look, go.” We need to interrupt our rapid pace with moments in which we stop, pay attention and feel a sense of gratitude.

After returning from a trip to Africa in which he had lived without electricity or running water, he felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude every time he turned on a faucet or flicked a light switch. Soon he got used to having electricity and running water, so he put stickers on the light switch and faucet to remind him to be grateful each time he used them.

To remind myself to consider what I'm grateful for, I keep a gratitude journal on the end table beside my morning journaling chair; its presence reminds me to think about and express what I'm thankful for.

Sunday Journal Prompt

What “stop signs” can you build into your life to promote gratitude?


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