When we develop an outlook of gratitude, we train ourselves to perceive the world in terms of abundance rather than scarcity. I am grateful for the few moments of rest I had today between appointments. I could just as easily be resentful about the rest I could not have because today was a workday, and I had to get out of bed and get busy. Which way will I see my day?
Do I perceive myself with gratitude? Do I give thanks for my experiences and the gifts and abilities that have grown because of those experiences? Or do I hunger after the experiences of other people, disappointed at what has not happened to me?
Gratitude is a response to my belief that my life is enough. It’s not perfect, and it’s not finished, but it is good and worthy of my thanksgiving. My life has potential. My life contains all kinds of gifts. What if I don’t have the gifts that this other person has? Will I obsess over that? Or will I simply rejoice with her?
It’s not difficult to see how gratitude leads to generosity. If life is abundance and not scarcity, then I can afford to be generous to others. If there is enough success in the universe for every person to experience a bit of it, then I can be free to help others succeed rather than focus only on my own seeking for success.
If I believe that each person is made in the Divine image, then I can worry less about how much my image matches someone else’s. I can enjoy the beauty of others without being envious.
If I believe that God continues to create my life, day by day, and continues to give graces with lavish love, then I can “afford” to accompany other people in the creation of their lives. I can share in their happiness when they receive gifts and graces.
Gratitude and generosity coexist within us. We cannot nurture one without building up the other. Each quality shapes our mindset about and our posture toward being in this world. Resentment and selfishness grow in an environment of fear, unfreedom, and the perception that there is not enough—of anything—for everyone. Gratitude and generosity grow in an environment of faith and freedom. These virtues are honest responses to a world that brims over with God’s love for us.