“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the mother of all others.”
Maybe Cicero didn’t exactly say this, but it’s worth reflecting on. Here in America, it is Thanksgiving. A day where we celebrate and give thanks to God for his gifts.
Gratitude has almost become a catchphrase in the modern world. “Too blessed to be stressed *hashtag family *winky face.” It’s good to be grateful, but returning to its roots, we see that gratitude was viewed in the classical world as a virtue. It was a human excellence that needed to be practiced. It was willed, not primarily emotive.
Foundational to gratitude is humility-also a great virtue. In humility, we recognize our smallness. As CS Lewis puts it, we don’t think less of ourselves-we think of ourselves less. In order to be grateful, we must first be humble enough to accept and appreciate gifts.
To practice gratitude, it’s good to sit back with a cup of coffee, and ponder how we came to be where we are-the sacrifices of so many people who worked to raise us up, teach us and help us on the way. Then, we need to will it so that this relationship and appreciation informs every aspect of how we treat others, in how we view challenges (note-not problems), and in how we view our relationship with our loving Father-a relationship that is pure gift.
It takes humility to be grateful. To recognize that God has given us everything, and that we have had good mothers, fathers, and friends who have been his instruments in that process.