A Feeling That Nurtures the Soul
From Music and the Spoken WordDelivered By: Lloyd D. Newell
Happiness and gratitude are linked together inseparably. Those who are grateful tend to be happier, and those who are happy tend to be more grateful. Happiness and gratitude simply go together. Scholars and scientists, poets and philosophers have connected them for generations.
We tend to think of gratitude primarily as a byproduct of happiness—when life is good and things are going our way, we feel thankful. But this is only half of the truth. Those who choose to be grateful even during hard times discover that gratitude creates happiness. Gratitude to God for everything around us awakens wonder and awe; it stimulates kindness and affection; it deepens humility and creates space in the heart for love and warmth. Gratitude is not just a reaction to our quality of life—it is how we determine our quality of life. Indeed, happiness inspires gratitude, but gratitude also inspires happiness.
The words of British writer G. K. Chesterton remind us how we can practice gratitude all the time:
You say grace before meals.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
True gratitude is a way of life, a perception and perspective that can change our lives for the better. And like any habit or skill, an attitude of gratitude just needs to be deliberately developed so that happiness can take root and flourish.
Rabbi Harold Kushner, another noted writer, suggested that gratitude requires focus and concentration. He said, “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."2
1 “A Grace,” G. K. Chesterton: Collected Works, 36 vols. (1986–2011), 10:43.
2 “God’s Fingerprints on the Soul,” in Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, eds., Handbook for the Soul, (1995), np.