On Gratitude

gratitudeGratitude is a funny thing. It arises in response to a need being filled, sure. But have you ever had a need go unrecognized until it’s been filled?

Scene: You meet someone casually in the course of a day and answer a question. A comment is made afterward, and a conversation begins. The conversation blooms and continues for years with this new, dear friend who fills a void in your life and heart that you didn’t even know was there. You are grateful for the chance meeting.

Scene: You are asked to train someone for a position you’re leaving, a fact which saddens you because you love the position, but know it’s time to move on. You worry that you won’t train the person well or completely, and the people served by your successor will suffer. Then you meet your replacement and are struck by their curiosity, energy and creativity. Rather than fret, you are excited for the new life they will breathe into the position. You are able move on, not just relieved but inspired. You are grateful for their new perspective, and the potential they bring to the position.

Scene: You feel beaten down and world-weary. But you show up and offer, suggest, help. These efforts feel insignificant and pointless. Still, you smile and keep on, determined to silence the naysayer in your head. Then you receive an unexpected note of thanks, a hug from across the miles. You cry grateful tears to learn your efforts *have* mattered, that you’ve made a difference.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel grateful. Some days, it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. But getting up, doing good work, making art, reaching out (or just being there when someone reaches out to you), even on the hard days? That is *everything*. Your creativity, kindness and humanity fill absences in others, both known and unknown. And those efforts that feel small and pointless? They generate gratitude in the world. Your actions stir the souls of others, perpetuate goodness, and increase its momentum for when its sent back out into the universe.

The best part? When you least expect it, maybe when you most need it, that goodness will come back around in the best example of karma I know. You’ll learn someone is grateful for you, and it will feel like a gift.