Politics Magazine

Meditations on Gratitude – The Three Questions

By Andrew Furst @a_furst
  1. When is the right time?
  2. Who are the right people?
  3. What is the most important thing to do?

In 1885 Leo Tolstoy told a story of the three questions.  The answers were, the most important time is right now, the right people are the people you are with, and the most important thing to do is to do good for those people.

We could adapt the three questions to gratitude.

  1. When is the right time to be grateful?
  2. Who should I be grateful for?
  3. What is the most important way I can show my gratitude?

As with enlightenment, we are not seeking a permanent emotional state of gratitude.  There is ebb and flow to life. We will always have moments of anger, ungratefulness, and ill will. But as these states arise, if we are mindful and seek an antidote, gratitude offers a potent remedy. Opening ourselves creates an ocean into which our suffering can dissolve.  Acknowledging the infinitude of things to be grateful for can help with that initial softening.

Gratitude does its work in the present moment. The materials are there in front of you, in the form of the people you are with, whether they are friends, coworkers, or strangers.  Feeling the heart open to those around you is purifying.

From here, showing gratitude is effortless, germinating from a natural appreciation for those we are with and how they are integral to our survival and well being. The most important way that we can show our gratitude is to let that appreciation usher forth naturally and authentically.

May all living beings have happiness and its causes
May all be free from unhappiness and its causes
May all dwell in equanimity, free of attraction and aversion
May all quickly find the great happiness that lies beyond all misery
May all enjoy inner and outer peace now and forever

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