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How to Create Gratitude

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As a kid, whenever I stayed for supper at certain friends’ houses, I wasn’t sure what to do when they prayed.

My family didn’t say grace, but I knew a bit about the ritual from reading the Family Circus. I knew you were supposed to look down and say amen at the end, so I did.

I was familiar with the idea of God—how he made the world and watched over it, and all that. But I found it unlikely he would intervene in the pedestrian matters of cooking and groceries. Still, it made as much sense as Santa Claus and the impossible logistical feats attributed to him, so I went through the motions in the way kids do.

By the time I became an edgy teenager, I’d learned from USENET newsgroups that religion had caused all the ills of society. So I went from playing along with the grace ritual to silently resisting. I still looked down at my hands, but I didn’t interlace my fingers, and refused to say amen. It’s embarrassing to remember that phase.

“Grace isn’t really religious,” a formerly religious co-worker said to me years later. We had picked up junk food to eat on the drive to the next jobsite. It was probably the unhealthiest meal possible—energy drinks and 7-11 butter tarts—and I had joked that we should say grace.

“Yeah you don’t have to believe the food came from the Lord. All they’re saying is, ‘Before we eat this food, let’s remember that we could have no food.’”

This might not be so, in other words. This thing you have—this meal, this bed, these clothes, this friend—if it’s possible to have it, it’s possible not to have it. If you take a moment to imagine not having it, the good fortune of having it is no longer lost on you.

His clear thoughts on the matter helped me understand what was so compelling about certain obscure gratitude practices I’d meanwhile discovered on my own. They’re all based on imagining nice things disappearing.

Some nights, once I was comfortably in bed, I would imagine my bed disappearing around me and dropping me onto the bare floor. A moment later, the whole house would go, depositing me, in my underwear, onto the cold, wet grass.

I’d imagine this scenario in vivid detail. The dirt and dampness, the dead grass stuck to my arms. After a minute or so, the daydream would break, and the warmth and comfort of the covers—the happy reality of where I really was—would hit me like a truck.

I’d do this on a smaller scale too, such as imagining my socks disappearing, just long enough to feel my clammy bare feet against the damp insoles of my boots. A moment later, I’d drop the fantasy, and discover anew just how much comfort a cheap pair of sport socks was adding to my life in that moment.

I still do this. With socks, sweaters, walls. It’s just one way to get your mind to collide with the essential truth behind any genuine experience of gratitude: this might not be so.  

If you do the same exercise not with socks but with your loved ones, the effect is so strong it might make you cry. If I could impress a single one of my weird ideas on the people of the world, it would be this practice, which I’ve written about many times:

You’ll need a moment in which you’re with a loved one, and they’re talking to someone else, doing a crossword, or otherwise not directly engaging with you.

Whatever they’re doing, quietly observe them doing it, paying attention to their unique mannerisms, voice, and presence.

Here’s the part that will make you cry. Try to see this moment as though it’s actually in the past, and this person is gone now. You’re remembering this one ordinary moment, in perfect detail, from that precious window of time when your lives still overlapped.

It’s important that it’s an ordinary moment, because those are the kinds of moments that often seem neutral in value. Abundant and unremarkable. You might be tempted to spend it checking your phone.

But if your mind can find that place, even for a just a second, where you see that this might not be so, you’ll break that sense that nothing special is happening.

Then there will be a moment when you come back to reality. And the reality is that the precious, fleeting time when you got to be near this person, the time you’d do anything to revisit, is happening right now.



Photo by Jennifer Kim

Teri February 13, 2020 at 8:54 pm

This is one of my all time favourite posts which I will be sharing widely. There is much to be gained from an open-mindedness to religion and ritual.

And of course, Amen to you. I think I would choose Raptitude over socks!

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:31 am

Thanks Teri. May you always have socks :)

Micky Sunnyraj February 13, 2020 at 11:50 pm

David, this is beautiful.

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:33 am

Thanks Micky.

Catrina February 14, 2020 at 12:05 am

As I was reading this, my husband got out of bed, passed by my desk and kissed me good morning. He asked me why I was crying. “Because this might not be so”, I said.
Thanks, David. You did it again.

Nico February 14, 2020 at 3:22 am

Beautiful. I wish all humanity could feel this.

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:32 am

Aw jeez

Andrew February 14, 2020 at 2:57 am

Much appreciated, David.

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:35 am


Madeleine Herring February 14, 2020 at 3:01 am

An excellent piece of writing.
I do this with my loved ones all the time. I do it by projecting myself into the future; to a time when one or many of the things I love wont be there (even myself). I hadnt connected the dots, as you have David, and realised how it was making me grateful for now. Being a foreigner in Germany, I also remind the locals just what a gift it is to have peace, freedom, a functioning health, government and legal system, buses and trains that show up: things that one doesnt notice – until they are gone. The refugees I teach English to understand this. Thank you for joining the dots. And you´re only as weird as I am!

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:44 am

Thanks Madeleine. I suppose it’s often the biggest and most consistent advantages/joys that we tend to overlook, because we’ve never seen life without them. Living in Canada my whole life I’ve always had most of my health care completely covered, and it would be quite a shock if that changed.

Nico February 14, 2020 at 3:51 am

Another lovely article, thank you.
I ask people to think of three places/circumstances they’re glad they’re not in. My gratitude often comes from just ‘being’, and knowing that I am experiencing the moment of which I used to be oblivious.
Think of how most of us feel when we meet a new dog, the instant love, warmth, and compassion we have for them; imagine if we felt the same way about people.

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:45 am

The love of a dog is a unique thing in this universe.

Julie February 14, 2020 at 4:30 am

David, this is just too much. I will be sharing. Thank you.

Carmen LeBlanc February 14, 2020 at 6:23 am

This is just what I needed to read this morning. Amazing post, thank you for sharing!

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:45 am

Thanks for sharing it Julie.

Quez February 14, 2020 at 4:54 am

As an atheist, amen to this wonderful post!

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:45 am


Leah February 14, 2020 at 5:01 am

David, this is powerful. One of your best posts, in my opinion.

This is exactly the kind of reminder and clarity that I needed today. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your writing, and for the thoughtfulness you put into this piece in particular. It would not be so otherwise. Amen.

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:47 am

It’s my pleasure Leah and may I never take it for granted :)

T.M. Rezzek February 14, 2020 at 5:17 am

RELIGIOUS ZEALOT FAMILY MEMBERS: (to me at holiday dinner) Would you like to say grace?
TEENAGE ME: (squirming, hating being put on the spot) No..thanks.
FAMILY: Say grace!
ME: (irritated) Okay. (deep breath) ‘RUB-A-DUB-DUB, THANKS FOR THE GRUB!’
FAMILY: (glaring with dagger-eyes)
ME: (shrugs, mentally preps for getting yelled at later)

Did I learn? Hardly. Later, at a home breakfast:
FAMILY MEMBER: (says grace, thanks God, etc.)
ME: (takes a bite of jelly doughnut) Boy, you’d think God could’ve put more jelly inside this doughnut!
FAMILY MEMBER: (yell, yell, yell)

Giving thanks because ‘this might not be so’ and not just to bow and scrape and name-drop a holy deity is much, MUCH better.

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:49 am

Heh… here’s my favorite flippant version of grace:


Elisa Winter February 14, 2020 at 6:39 am

So simple. And now that I’ve lost the most important people, parents, grandparents, siblings, childhood friends who’ve know me since forever, it’s easy enough to recall anywhere, any time. And I do recall – the fragility of the here and now. Silly angry verbal monkeys with all our fighting and meanness. What really is the point of all that? When in a second it could all be different, and worse.

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 9:55 am

We are such a strange creature. We benefit so much from perspective, and we’re capable of achieving it in certain moments, but we have trouble maintaining it.

Darren M February 14, 2020 at 7:49 am

Nailed it. Thanks for this :)

Michael February 14, 2020 at 7:50 am

Thank you.

Paula Simmon February 14, 2020 at 7:53 am

Thank you. I agree; especially in these times, which are exhausting and depressing, this post gave me hope (as your writing often does). Gratitude and kindness are always the best choice, and somehow they help me hold on when holding on feels so fragile.

eema February 14, 2020 at 8:19 am

what a lovely post! thanks.

Rosalind February 14, 2020 at 8:20 am

When I was frustrated with her, my elderly mother used to say “You’ll miss me when I’m gone”. How right she was…

Penny Orloff February 14, 2020 at 8:25 am

This. Amen.

Sally King February 14, 2020 at 9:19 am

Hard to type while crying. Thank you. A life changer.

Mary Jo Oxrieder February 14, 2020 at 9:25 am

Yes! to all of this. A sense of gratitude for so many reasons – one being to replace the whiny complaints that my mind indulges in constantly. To replace the fear mongering my mind plays at. To have a sense of gratitude, I have to be present (a practice I’m working on.) And, really, compared to so many, I have so much. With gratitude comes a sense of joy.
Finally, being grateful for loved ones. After losing a brother, parents and a son, not ever taking people for granted and letting them know how much they’re appreciated has definitely become a practice.
As per usual, great post.

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 10:09 am

It’s hard to measure qualities like presence and gratitude, but they definitely correlate. Being present undermines worry and puts you in touch with direct experience. A little big of intentional daydreaming creates a lot of perspective though.

Brenda February 14, 2020 at 9:30 am

Beautifully written, David! I feel these very thoughts every time I go visit my 78 year old dad. When he gets preachy or he slurps his soup and I start to get annoyed, I bring myself to a place of love, so far beyond just tolerance when I remember how precious a privilege it is just to still have him.

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 10:13 am

Yes! This works even for moments when we might otherwise be annoyed. Anyone we’re close with does things that drive us nuts, but if you imagine them gone, suddenly it was a small part of something much greater.

P Longo February 14, 2020 at 9:34 am

Thank you, again. I can imagine a life without your voice and it’s accompanying awareness because, until I first heard it began noticing more deliberately, I too went through the rituals vicariously. Now that I have internalized portions of your voice and have begun to form a more direct and unobstructed relationship with the ways in which life reveals itself to me, I treasure this opportunity to consider them gone since it deepens my gratitude. Thanks again, David.

David Cain February 14, 2020 at 10:15 am

Aw thanks Paul. It’s always a joy to see your avatar and your words.

Donna Lowe February 14, 2020 at 11:18 am

This insight definitely has made me value the time with my loved ones, adding a dimension to my relationships with them that I had not had before. I will be sharing this post, as it is so beautifully written and expressed.
Thank you David.

Jen February 14, 2020 at 11:20 am

Thank you. I just lost a friend and those simple gestures are the ones I remember him by. His hands, his sense of humor, his sensitivity. He was very well know for his achievements but I remember him for those simple gestures. Today’s message was lovely. Thank you. I appreciate your contribution to our lives.

Ron Geraci February 14, 2020 at 11:44 am

Great, great post. I actually did this, in a similar sense, to my dad during dinner one night in the mid 1980s. Just looked at him, studied him and tried to imprint him so vividly that the details would remain after, one day in the future, he wasn’t there. So many years later I remember a few small details—his brown eyes, his unshaven skin, his creaseless forehead under his low silver widow’s peak—but most everything else from that long minute has blurred away into my general memory of him. Above all I was trying to irrevocably imprint the sensation of being near him, of feeling his “him-ness” in some sense, so I could conjure that feeling again. He’s been gone since 1997 and I still can conjure a few atoms of that real, alive feeling from that night for a few fractions of a second—but then my brain drenches it out with the far more vague images and bits of potential sensations that commonly flood into my thoughts whenever I think of him.

I cherish those few fractions of second, though. And I hope that the information I actively took in that night 30+ years ago, when doing the exercise you’re describing, might have been injected into other memories I have of him that have slowly morphed, evolved and diluted over the years, as memories do.

His “him-ness” is really the thing I want to preserve most vividly and be able to conjure most purely, above anything else. Taking that minute to do this odd little exercise long ago is still helping me do that.

David Cain February 15, 2020 at 10:12 am

Those details are everything… whenever you see someone you haven’t seen in a long time, so many tiny details come rushing back: the words they like to use, their posture, the way they do everything. It shows you how much really is lost when they’re gone.

Randall Klarin February 14, 2020 at 11:47 am

Well-written piece about a super important topic. The gist of your message seems to be take a moment to appreciate this moment. I do take exception to your acceptance of grace as a kind and banal commentary. Yes, it can have the overtones of gratitude, but it also displaces agency to some magical entity (as you said) Santa Claus or god. That practice can result in a lack of responsibility and accountability. Grace for ‘bad’ food does NOT change the quality of the food.

Linda Lesperance February 14, 2020 at 11:58 am

This visual imagining of loss is so deep that it is breathtaking. I will use this form of visualization in my own gratitude practices from now on. Thank you for sharing, David.

Gregory MacCrone February 14, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Lovely. It actually took the breath out of me. I will practice this. Thank you.

Mickey Wood February 14, 2020 at 12:54 pm

That ws an eye-opening reminder. Thank you.

Sabrina February 14, 2020 at 3:00 pm

One night , during one of my mind chatters/internal dialogues, I was complaining about my life, in general I guess, I clearly remember the feeling… at the same time I was tidying up the apartment, took the garbage outside in the balcony ( it was December and in Italy it was freezing cold! ) .. I felt so cold .. then suddenly right after feeling so cold I got the mental picture of homeless people having to sleep all night in that cold! I felt a bit ashamed of myself and got back in the warm. Since that night I have started to be more grateful about life and every time I start complaining I move myself outside in the balcony in the cold! Living in a bipolar dimension we all have to experience the opposite of gratitude in order to truly understand what that means, taking things for granted it’s so easy, and despite life do things for us and not to us, some lessons imply a lot of pain. I truly enjoyed reading your post.

David Cain February 15, 2020 at 10:20 am

There are certain frequently-occurring moments that are perfect for remembering gratitude, and one of them is coming in from the cold.

Pietro February 14, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Hi David!

I wanted to thank you for this brilliant article, it gave me the chills!

I have to confess that I periodically read an old article of yours (‘You and your friends are all going to die and that’s beautiful’), so reading something that resonates with that makes me appreciate it even more.

Jude Lowe February 14, 2020 at 6:10 pm

Thank you David.
You put it into words – now I get it.
You Rock Dude xx

Sergey Lazutin February 14, 2020 at 6:50 pm

Negative visualization is thousands years old, it’s one of the tools of the stoics.

Mary Lynne February 15, 2020 at 3:32 am

As I read the comment of your friend “Yeah you don’t have to believe the food came from the Lord.” I posit, just what if it did? That the Lord (something/someone bigger that ourselves) was, is, and always would be involved in the pedestrian, tiniest details of our lives. Embracing the providence of this makes the “Because this might not be so” ever so much more meaningful and miraculous. Thank you for the thought-provoking essay and opening the window to glimpse the possibility.

David Cain February 15, 2020 at 10:23 am

I guess we had this discussion because neither of us believed in Christianity, but my friend did formerly, so he was aware that grace can still have meaning even if you don’t.

Lance February 15, 2020 at 9:46 am

Agree on appreciating everyday things we take for granted, however disagree with feeling guilty about not taking part in “grace”. In my experience it is always religious in nature, and I feel no need to participate in a forced prayer. If I am in someone’s home, I will respectfully wait until it’s over, but anywhere else, I ignore the ritual and eat. To each his own.

David Cain February 15, 2020 at 10:25 am

I used to think that way too — if it’s religious, I ignore it. But now I believe there is value in some religious rituals that you can connect with even if you don’t share the underlying metaphysical beliefs.

Lance February 15, 2020 at 12:56 pm

Interesting and tolerant point of view. Personally I am most grateful looking up at the night sky, or the forest, not during someone else’s prayer to a deity. Or maybe I’m just grouchy watching my food get cold :-)

MelD April 19, 2020 at 8:00 am

…it’s also good manners to wait for everyone to be ready before you start eating, in any case, so whether you sit politely through a grace or not makes little difference!!
But thankyou David, I appreciate the point of gratitude.

Girija Unnikrishnan Rema February 15, 2020 at 12:56 pm

Great article! It certainly helps one to realize the importance of practising gratefulness beyond the religious aspect.

Susan Carroll February 15, 2020 at 3:31 pm

This is such a thought-provoking article. I have recently been trying to practice gratitude, and thinking of in terms of something no longer being there would really focus the mind, so thank you for that idea. It also reminds me of my Mam, I used to take her to do her grocery shopping every Friday, and would often feel a little impatient at the amount of time it took to get around. Now that she is gone I would give anything to have one of those Friday mornings back, so what you are saying is so true. Thinking about not having something when you still have will really help you to feel more grateful

Brandon C February 15, 2020 at 7:31 pm

Beautiful article, David! Beautiful!

Sharon Hanna February 15, 2020 at 8:00 pm

Wow. This really hit home for so many people. I am someone who thinks/feels almost ‘too much’ in this area…..but it really was great for so many people. Love what you write and share.

Ruby February 15, 2020 at 10:03 pm

As a struggling wanna-be-vegan – I say a silent prayer of gratitude to every piece of chicken, pork, fish etc. whenever I prep and cook meals with – “I am sorry for the life you inadvertently gave and I thank you for sustaining mine.” THANK YOU for this beautiful piece.

William Daniel February 16, 2020 at 1:13 am

This one lingered with me the entire day after reading it. Those first four paragraphs really hit home, one of those moments where you feel like someone stole the words right out of your journal or subconscious. I never really fell into a groove with any particular religion growing up and the USENET that you speak up opened up doors for me that I navigated hard as many people of the time did and now it’s almost like I can’t take any one of them too seriously on their own or in their entirely. Sometimes you wonder if the web created it’s own ideology by meshing the ideas of the world into one big think tank of how things should be.

I don’t follow many blogs but I like how the web seemingly has taken a new liking to the idea of RSS readers and things outside the biggest social media platforms. I think we can thank people such as Joe Rogan for inadvertently raising the bar and level of awareness of the idea of what podcasting can and should be. Not sure how I stumbled upon this place originally but I’ve been lingering in the background for a while now and it’s always refreshing to see something new you have put up because it’s always articulated so well and oftentimes it’s very thought provoking ideas you discuss and one finds themselves casually enjoying a thoughtful post before realizing they are in very profound waters.

Somewhere in the history of the web the “comment section” type of commentary, that is to say the instinctive, poorly thought-out responses that people give (which is only accentuated by those who interact with the web in a mobile-only manner) has somehow become the new “normal” for writing articles. You can often tell that articles are not given much of a thought anymore, much less anything that will exceed whatever character limit Twitter is currently supporting. It is always such a breathe of fresh air to see someone who actually still cares about the what the supporting text on their website says they do.


Shoutout TheOldReader!

Angela Ngan February 17, 2020 at 6:49 am

My father was terminally ill for 4 years and passed away 2 years ago. I remember vividly during that time when we would take our daily walks outside to savor the ordinary, extraordinary moment that I had with him. Me linking my arms with him. Sometimes he talked and I listened or I would talk and he listened. I’d ask him stories about him growing up. We’d sometimes sit on a bench, underneath a grove of trees as he rested. I knew that time with him was finite. So I locked those memories into that vault in my mind. Sometimes he’d leave the house before I did and I’d chase him down, I knew one day that I’d no longer be able to find him.

My mother is religious and I’d always get so annoyed when she prayed growing up. But I realized in recent years, what she was doing was a routine practice of gratitude that got her through one of the toughest periods of her life. So I pray sometimes now too.

Angela February 17, 2020 at 6:50 am

My father was terminally ill for 4 years and passed away 2 years ago. I remember vividly during that time when we would take our daily walks outside to savor the ordinary, extraordinary moment that I had with him. Me linking my arms with him. Sometimes he talked and I listened or I would talk and he listened. I’d ask him stories about him growing up. We’d sometimes sit on a bench, underneath a grove of trees as he rested. I knew that time with him was finite. So I locked those memories into that vault in my mind. Sometimes he’d leave the house before I did and I’d chase him down, I knew one day that I’d no longer be able to find him.

My mother is religious and I’d always get so annoyed when she prayed growing up. But I realized in recent years, what she was doing was a routine practice of gratitude that got her through one of the toughest periods of her life. So I pray sometimes now too.

Levi February 17, 2020 at 8:47 am

Thank you David!

Wallet February 17, 2020 at 11:46 am

Thank you, David! This is one of my favorite posts by you.

Having lost my mom (and many other family members) in the last year, this practice is particularly visceral for me.

Greg February 19, 2020 at 8:33 am

Great insights David! I have been practicing something akin to this after reading William B. Irvine’s “A Guide to the Good Life (the ancient art of stoic joy)”. I like this thinking because it aligns with my belief in a Triune God. Keep at David, I appreciate your thinking and sharing…

Jessi February 20, 2020 at 10:19 pm

Truth be told, I find it so unbearably painful to do this exercise with the people I’m closest to that I can’t really even find the courage to try it. I get too overwhelmed with emotion before I even begin.

Amy February 22, 2020 at 8:51 am

I also liked the post, but do believe heart and soul that “every good gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly Lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Our lives on earth are so short in light of eternity. Knowing God, the source of all that is good and lovely and right, is what life is all about. Despite how grand the universe, earth and stars, our awesome Maker and perfect Father is mindful of us, and cares for each creature He has made. This is what makes me grateful most of all.

Linda Beem February 22, 2020 at 10:40 am

Beautifully said!
I really like the concept of imagining the things we cherish to be absent for a moment, and then the appreciation of that comes of it. I can hardly think of what this life would be like if I did not have the Lord of my life. I would be so lost and disappointed in this world. Nothing would make sense, there would be no reason of justice for mankind, no Devine intercession, no forgiveness, no hope of Heaven. That thought does makes me grateful.

Tim February 22, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Not everyone can relate to that patriarchal viewpoint however and the essay does a great job of conveying what’s meaningful about grace and gratitude without it having to be cloaked in religion. (i.e. putting a male gender on a god (or something) that may or may not exist in this incomprehensible and vast universe and even if it did exist any type of explanation of it coming out of a human being would sound ridiculous anyway.

Natalie February 22, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Good article. When I’m annoyed or frustrated by someone close, I have imagined what it would be like without them and have wept. The annoyances and frustrations melt away and the realization that we’re only here for a blip of time permeates my soul. I am thankful to God for allowing me to share life with these special ones.

MariaShingler February 22, 2020 at 4:15 pm

What a beautiful post, it reminds me of an idea I learnt once of taking ” snapshots” with your mind when you are truly present in a special moment.

Gayle February 23, 2020 at 4:03 pm

I remember just such a moment a few months before our 22-year-old son went to heaven. He and I were sitting in our living room. I told him I loved him and that I was sorry for the mistakes I had made as his mother. He forgave me and we talked a bit more. But I wanted to just go lay my head on his lap and tell him I loved him SO MUCH. So, yeah— treasure the ones you love. Tell them how much you love them… while you still can.

John Schutt February 26, 2020 at 3:13 pm

Gratitude and thankfulness have to have an object. There has to be a WHOM to whom you are grateful and thankful. If you think that there is no God, then to whom are you grateful? The cosmos? It doesn’t care. Yourself? That’s better, but it sure is narcissistic.

Have you ever considered that, without God, there is NO meaning, value, or purpose to life? The logical endpoint of that thinking is nihilism. Perhaps you’d consider rethinking your viewpoint to lead a more examined life? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKGnXgH_CzE

David Cain February 26, 2020 at 4:11 pm

Do you really believe nobody experiences meaning or purpose unless they share your particular religious beliefs? I guess you must.

Amelia March 1, 2020 at 1:00 pm

Thanks for this David. Poignant as always. I practice gratitude in the same kind of ways as far as “things” go. This is a nice reminder to appreciate our loved ones. Going to hug my boys right now!

Done by Forty February 26, 2020 at 11:10 pm

Our 20 month old had a fever of 104.7 today, and I accidentally had a moment where I was imagining just what you’re talking about. And yeah, I am very, very grateful for him being cooler and asleep in his crib right now.

“This might not be so, in other words. This thing you have—this meal, this bed, these clothes, this friend—if it’s possible to have it, it’s possible not to have it.”

Amen, David. A-freaking-men.

David Cain March 2, 2020 at 10:09 am

Yikes. I’m glad things returned to normal. <3

Friedrich February 29, 2020 at 3:57 pm

The only reason why I need food, water and shelter is to maintain my physical body. I would not need these things if I were dead. I don’t enjoy working a dead end job just to barely make ends meet. What am I grateful for? Money is an information system for labor allocation. If I were dead, I wouldn’t need money. I’ve never had a significant other, and my parents conceived me 23 years ago and now I have to pay the bills, buy food and clothes. What am I grateful for? My ability to work to barely make ends meet? How am I supposed to be grateful for that?

David Cain March 2, 2020 at 10:13 am

All those things may be true, but don’t you find that some moments are better than others and some experiences are better than others? It is possible to not have food, shelter, and water, along with mobility, eyesight, functioning respiratory system, and countless other conditions whose tremendous value will become clear when they go. Gratitude has a place in every life.

Onwukwe Victor March 2, 2020 at 2:04 pm

This touched me. This touched me bad.

Could I post this on my Facebook wall and leave a link to this site? People would be too lazy to click the link they might miss out on one of the greatest things they’d have come across…

David Cain March 2, 2020 at 2:21 pm

How about just post an excerpt and a link? I would like people to come to my site if they are going to read my articles.

Jenny March 9, 2020 at 12:30 pm

David – I cannot tell you how much I loved this post. I’ve used this exercise a couple of times lately and wow, it is certainly powerful!

I’ve been focusing on gratitude myself over the past week or so, and I’ve referenced this post in a piece for my own blog. Hope that’s ok?


David Cain March 9, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Glad you liked it Jenny. It’s always okay to link/reference other stuff you find on the web. That’s what makes it a web! Thanks for directing people to this post.

Rose March 16, 2020 at 1:18 pm

This reminds me so much of one of my favorite plays… ‘Our Town’ by Thornton Wilder. In the play, after Emily dies, she is allowed to go back and see one day in her life, but the other ghosts warn her… choose an ordinary day. So she chooses her 12th birthday and as she watches her mother hustle and bustle and go through the day, the ghost Emily becomes more frustrated that her mother is not really noticing her daughter. She eventually cries, “Just look at me!” It is perhaps the most heartbreaking four words in theater, because it captures the idea that we are rarely ever LOOKING at each other. We are doing all these things and missing almost everything, most of the time. Your practice reminded me of this. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

ghandpahlu.com April 29, 2020 at 12:48 pm

very very love this post. I’ve used this post in own web for persian people.

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