“Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy – because we will always want to have something else or something more.”
—Brother David Steindl-Rast
Abbi here, in the House of Mystery, feeling particularly grateful today. Jeff has recently returned home from China, where he was the first magician to receive a standing ovation from the Beijing Magic Convention in their entire history. I am grateful he is home, safe, healthy and well.
As we move toward our official one day of the year to remember gratitude, I was reflecting on the different kinds of gratitude I’ve been aware of recently.
Jeff scares Abbi with one of his many faces
This form of thankfulness stems from expectation; it’s insincere and inauthentic – (“oh, gee, thanks; you shouldn’t have…”). This false gratitude may arise within us when we feel like someone is expecting our expression of gratitude and will be offended (or worse) if they don’t receive it. I remember once, as a little girl, my father’s mother, Muriel, had sent me a small gift for my sixth birthday, which, for some reason, I didn’t properly acknowledge. When I saw her, a couple of months later, she came up to me and said, “Abbi, I have a bone to pick with you. I sent you a gift, and you didn’t send me a thank-you note.” I felt terrible, and muttered, “thanks, Grandma.” Gratitude, when demanded, loses its sweetness. Feeling like one must be grateful is an excellent way to lose any real gratitude. For me, if I find myself doing something I don’t want to do, in hopes that someone will give me their gratitude in response, that’s the time for me to stop, breathe, and remember that if I can’t do something with a willing spirit and a glad heart, it’s probably better that I not do it at all.
“It’s a troublesome world. All the people who’re in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute. You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot,for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not.”
— Dr. Seuss
This type of appreciation appears when we think about the things that didn’t happen, or that we don’t have, and are honestly thankful for them. For instance, I’m very deeply grateful that I don’t have to spend eight hours a day under fluorescent lights, on my feet, in a job I hate. I’m grateful that I don’t have a house filled with empty beer cans and a blaring television. You get the picture – there are lots of things to have reverse gratitude for, but this way of seeing things can easily lead into judgmental thinking, so use sparingly, with caution.
Giving thanks for the gifts we receive
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
True gratitude arises when we are aware of the gifts in our lives and allow ourselves to experience a feeling of thankfulness, from the heart. There are so many gifts: the fact that we live on a planet perfectly positioned so that we receive just the right amount of sunlight to make all things grow, with an ideal atmosphere for breathing, and pure water to drink – to our health and well-being of body, mind and spirit, – to our relationships with family and friends. Once we open the door to gratitude, the list expands.
So much gratitude
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Jeff and I are deeply grateful for each one of you reading this. Whether you have seen us perform in a show, attended a lecture, participated in our virtual magic school, or have studied with us here in Las Vegas, we are grateful to have you in our magical circle, and thankful that our paths have crossed. It’s been said that gratitude opens the door for grace to come in, and that what we focus on is what increases. As we move closer to the end of the year, let us remember to tune into what we can be grateful for, so that more gifts, more creativity, more blessings may flow to us and through us.