Gratitude Given Freely Can Grow on You

Want to feel good? Pick out five things each day to show your gratitude. Write ’em down. But, don’t try to fake it. You really gotta look for some thing in your life, some person, some reason that, deep down inside, you can say “makes me grateful.”

That’s a message I got from a fellow named Bill Stauffer who addressed a group of like-minded people who were seeking some spiritual insights this morning. Before he finished, I asked him if it was okay to tell him how grateful I felt for leading such a discussion. I really was! And, it felt good in saying so. Someone mentioned that “gratitude” freely given is something that doesn’t involve the ego, and that it can actually lead to a feeling of joy, to be able to give of yourself in a modest way, unconditionally, for something that helps to, or has helped to,  give you a little happiness.

Instead of writing things down, I figured I’d simply approach others and tell them how grateful I was for their presence, and to specify “why” I felt that way. It worked. I felt more and more “elated” as I went from one to another, smiling while looking the person in the eye and sincerely offering my gratitude. The first I thanked was a woman I had recently met, named Tracy, who has given me scraps of paper when I needed to write something, but had no space left on the back of business cards I carry. Twice she has helped me at group gatherings. And, twice I used the written information for my later benefit.

Next, I told Susan Simmons how grateful I was that she had provided her art studio in center city Philadelphia, PA, for this “discussion” group to meet and share our thoughts, feelings and hopes. I stayed with her while most others left, helping her and Tracy rearrange chairs, pillows and mats. You know the feeling you get when you help the host or hostess clean up after a bit? It just felt “good” to pitch in, and show some appreciation for her week-to-week kindness.

If it wasn’t for Ken Klein and others like him, there would be no group to be meeting over the past 20 years. and I told him that, shaking his hand and offering my thanks for his foresight and staunch following of a dream. He accepted it humbly, praising others by name whom he credited with just as much determination in bringing this Buddhist teaching group together in forning the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia .

One of those “synchronicity” moments manifested as I offered gratitude to my fifth person, a woman I never thought could understand about my suffering, let alone experience the pain many like me endure when we least expect it.What I learned while sharing my feelings with her, gave me chills. She has battled with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) just like me, and faced the trauma in the same place of origin: Vietnam. She lived there — in Saigon — with her family, being exposed to the fighting, explosions and ravages of war as if she were a seasoned veteran. Probably worse. I discovered a “fellow sufferer” I thought, as we hugged in recognition of our immediate connection to a former life.

Talk about joy! Showing gratitude to her gave me more than a little  joy — it was pure ‘bliss.

7 comments on “Gratitude Given Freely Can Grow on You

  1. […] a dozen new friends, and have even written about our contacts. See Mary, Flowers, and of course the Gratitude story, in which I felt I had to seek public forgiveness (See My ‘Right Speech’ May Have […]


  2. JhanaJian says:

    Michael, you’re contageous! Yesterday I actually thanked a traffic light for turning green when I was rushing late to work. Seriously!


  3. Christy says:

    That’s a wonderful post. A great reminder of how the expression of gratitude can improve our lives!


    • contoveros says:


      I’ll pass your comment onto Bill Stauffer, he’s the fellow who suggested it, while kalyani (see below) and i believe it could work as well face to face, person to person.

      michael j


  4. JhanaJian says:

    nice post, michael. nice take on gratitude. the only thing i would add is gratitude, not only towards people, but also towards things that don’t understand your language — gratitude toward the sun for shining (if it is shining), gratitude toward the birds for singing, gratitude toward the trees for giving us shade and oxygen and what all, gratitude to existence for giving you being.

    ok, sermon over, but those are my thoughts. btw, i don’t always live up to such gratitude myself, but sometimes i do. to me, gratitude is the essence of spirituality.


  5. kalyani says:

    I like this idea. That you express the feelings to the person you are feeling grateful instead of writing them down somewhere where they never get to know it. I’ve done that and it didn’t help too much. But you’ve really connected this way. And told us too about it !


    • contoveros says:

      By telling some one, I guess you can get two grateful feelings out of one . . .

      A “two-for-one” kind of deal.

      Thanks for the insight!


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