Spiritual Practice

How to Feel More Grateful. It’s Thanksgiving! Seriously, How to Be Grateful. We’re Not Powerless.

Should we even care about how to feel more grateful? Why? Well, it is good for humans. Here are some guides, short and sweet.

How to Feel More GratefulThanksgiving is upon us.  Tell me how to feel more grateful, because I find it’s healthy for me. And it’s not, as some argue, unrealistic.  Properly understood it may be the highest realism. Here are some guidelines.

I. WHAT IS An Attitude of Gratitude?  4 Very Short Articles:

You sure don’t have to have my kind of god, or any god, nor my style of thankfulness.  But I’m pretty sure that, in various ways, gratefulness or conscious appreciation is very possible.  So, how do we practice how to thank God – or how to thank the universe, or whatever?  Here is some serious, but simple, thinking about that – 4 short articles.

1. Be Joyful? It Doesn’t Mean You’re Nuts, but More Free.  (3 min read)

  • The skeleton of a sermon I delivered not long ago.

2. Give Thanks Freely – but Not for EVERYthing! (or maybe, How to Thank God)  (3 min read)

  • It insults God and everyone else to actually be thankful FOR everything.

3. Being Thankful Requires a Little Thought (1 min read)

  • Logically enough, the English words “thank” and “think” are pretty closely related.

4. Thanksgiving – 1) Don’t Want to Hear About It.  2) Giving Thanks IS.  3) Giving Thanks IS NOT.  (2 min read)

  • Maybe you’re not a fan of the holiday, or even of the idea.  Here are thoughts on how it might still be made a good thing.

II. HOW TO FEEL MORE GRATEFUL.  4 Short Sets of  Short Quotes

from Kathryn and Ross Petras’ fun little books of short quotes, 1 per page, that en masse could actually be life-changing – very helpful in developing an “attitude of gratitude”. (Three are currently available for under $10, the other for slightly more.)

Three years ago I started reading 25 pages a day from “Nothing is Worth More Than This Day” – probably 60 or 70% of the time.  Plus excursions into the other books. If you’re something like a self-critical and picky preacher’s kid and preacher – like me – this can be quite worthwhile. And it’s a good range of sources – from religious leaders to atheists, philosophers to politicians to musicians. Truly valuable. 

SO: Here are a few quotes from these four books.  The first batch (“Nothing is Worth More …”) is more obviously thankfulness training. But the rest also help. (P.S. I’m not an affiliate – I get no kickback if you buy a book from here.)

1. NOTHING IS WORTH MORE THAN THIS DAY (or maybe, How to Thank the Universe)

1. Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted – a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. – Harold Kushner (p57)

2. Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give. – Eleanor Roosevelt (p16)

3. We can’t actually fly to another planet. But we can recapture that sense of having just tumbled out to life on a new world by looking at our own world in unfamiliar ways. – Richard Dawkins (p63)

4. It takes no more time to see the good side of life than to see the bad. – Jimmy Buffett (p7)

5. We are made to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew. – Desomnd Tutu (p 264)

6. I believe in having fun first, and along the way, if you teach people, if you influence people, well and good. – Ray Bradbury (p310)

7. There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and after that, to enjoy it.  Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. – Logan Pearsall Smith (p325)


1. There are dreams of love, life, and adventure in all of us. But we are also sadly filled with reasons why we shouldn’t try. These reasons seem to protect us, but in truth they imprison us. They hold life at a distance. Life will be over sooner than we think. If we have bikes to ride, and people to love, now is the time. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (p6)

2. We need to find God, and he can’t be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, see how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls. – Mother Teresa

3. My idea of forgiveness is letting go of resentment that does not serve your better interest, ridding yourself of negative thoughts. All they do is make you miserable. Believe me, you can fret and fume all you want, but whoever it was that wronged you is not suffering from your anguish whatsoever. – Della Reese (p215)

3. DON’T FORGET TO SING IN THE LIFEBOATS (or maybe, How to be Grateful for What You Have)

1. Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression. – Dodie Smith (p60)

2. When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us– Alexander Graham Bell (p245)

3. The sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s ass all the time. – James “Catfish” Hunter (p316)

4. NEVER USE A LONG WORD WHERE A SHORT ONE WILL DO (or maybe, How to Thank God with Active Realism)

1. A writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. – Junot Diaz (p42)

2. Every writer I know has trouble writing. – Joseph Heller (p245)

3. A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper. – E. B. White (p73)

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