Gratitude is important.  And, yes, a bit trendy.  So I’ll jump in and share some thoughts on how to level up your gratitude game.  I recently read All Things Shining by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly.  The book suggests that gratitude gives us a substantial and perhaps a moral grounding in life.
But what I want to inject is the idea that something needs to preface gratitude:  acceptance.


In order to be grateful you must first accept the current situation, set of characteristics, or facts involved.

This may seem nitpicky and already an expectation of the gratitude process.  But what if this piece is overlooked?

Maybe this is why so many of us have difficulty being or acknowledging being grateful.  And if we do, it is too soon forgotten.  Perhaps the acceptance part is either missing or weak.


Take for example being grateful that you receive good news regarding medical test results.  Looming fear gripped you for the week prior to receiving the results and so often your mind drifted to worst-case scenarios.  The good results come back, now what?  Yes you are immediately relieved, but is this gratitude?  What is gratitude here?  Grateful for what?


You may be grateful for the mere fact of the positive results and the current state of your health.  But is there more?  Yes, there perhaps is, and this is where acceptance comes in.  It’s relatively easy to accept the facts when faced with them. The results reflect the facts of your health.


But this isn’t necessarily gratitude.For gratitude there must be an additional acceptance of what those results mean. This acceptance may be that of the choices you made which helped lead to the results (refraining from action or choosing to act, diet, lifestyle, etc.).  Or acceptance of the way in which you can now live your life.

In this way acceptance goes beyond the present state. It reflects back and anticipates forward.


So, more on the point of presentness, the next time you find yourself in a relieved state, or one of those seemingly random states of happiness, give pause not only for acknowledgement of the facts but for their meaning in relation to past circumstances that led to the state, and for their implications on your future. This will then more fully develop your gratitude.