It’s American Thanksgiving, so it seems timely to write about gratitude, and I’d like to consider an aspect of gratitude that is only recently surfacing in my own exploration.

There is now plenty of research and anecdotal evidence to tell us that we are happier (and even healthier) when we practice being grateful. My experience is the same – I’m happier when I’m practicing gratitude.

However, being more conscious about gratitude, I’ve become started to wonder – what engenders my gratitude?  Under what circumstances or with whom am I grateful? When am I the most grateful? There seems to be a steady state of gratitude, where we experience the natural grace of life, and then there are those sharp, poignant moments of intense gratitude.

What is it that sometimes catches me so fiercely and suffuses my whole being with gratitude?

The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see – Dr. Robert Holden

These intense moments of gratitude seem to emerge when I’m aware of the risk inherent in the ‘gift’ I’ve been given. Authentic goodness (from which the ‘gift’ emanates) – is always a risk.  Doing something that doesn’t immediately benefit ourselves or our interests is risky.

When the contribution to me or to life costs the giver something, it alters the world. What emerges simultaneously is the cost, the beauty and delicacy of the gift, and the possibility that I too could sacrifice some comfort (whether material or mental) to make a difference… when those are present, the awareness of them expands my heart and the intensity of my gratitude will claim me.

So I’ve been asking myself – if I were to pay this kind of gratitude forward – where and what might I risk?  Where might I take an action that doesn’t immediately benefit me or my interests?

What might I risk to expand the ocean of grace in the world?