Remembering to Give Thanks

The older I get the more I grow aware of how important it is to give thanks, not only for the “big things” like friends, family, food and work to be done, but also for the small sometimes forgotten events or people in everyday life. The other day a cashier at a local store saved a package I had forgotten to take with me after purchasing a number of items and made sure to run after me and return it. I said thanks, and she smiled. In the scale of the world stage, this small event was not even noticed; but on my stage and hers it made a difference.

I have made a vow to thank people who deserve it, whose actions often go unnoticed. If one is aware of this, there are always people to thank every day. When I get caught up in the whirl of daily activities, I sometimes forget to do so and from time to time I need to remind myself to pay attention. I call it the rubber band strategy. I put a rubber band around my wrist (or I also have Buddhist beads that serve the same purpose), to remind myself to pay attention.

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It’s one thing to find people to thank with whom you have little contact; it’s another to be aware of those around you with whom you may spend significant amount of your daily life. Sometimes the rubber band strategy works here as well; other times one needs to make a commitment to saying thanks for the presence of someone you care deeply about, if not daily, at least every once in awhile.

There are also thanks to be given for the sheer fact of being alive, sometimes in spite of pain or loss or other obstacles. For me, this kind of gratitude is a source of great joy. One can then give thanks not only for people but for animals and trees and even snow (which sometimes slows me down long enough to pay attention to the silent white world outside my window).
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So here’s a simple assignment for today. Get a rubber band put on your wrist. Pay attention to who or what you are grateful for–and say thanks. The energy you will release in yourself and others will fill your heart and perhaps others with deep joy. And that is one reason we are here.

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