Today Madeline spoke to us on the Gentle power of gratefulness, assisted by David Steindle-Rast.

One thing we know about everyone you meet on the street is that we all want to be happy.  How we do it is different, but we all have this in common. The secret of happiness is being grateful.  Happy people are grateful.  This is odd because one would think that people who have many possessions would be happy but we know this is not true from experience.  We all know people with much who are not happy.   We all know people who own little, but who are very happy.  Happiness doesn’t make us grateful.  But, gratefulness does make us happy.

Two things are given to us freely, (1) our time on earth and (2) opportunity.  Every moment is precious.  Without this moment, we can’t have anything.   Opportunity is the gift within the gift because every moment is an opportunity.

Every once in a while something difficult is given to us.  In those moments there are great opportunities.  The ones who make much of our opportunities we see as heroes.  But those who fail have more moments and more opportunities and every opportunity has a chance to find joy.

If you have lived in a place without clean water, our tap water seems like a miracle. In this humble thing you can now find joy.  Grateful people are not worried about scarcity, because they focus on the abundance.


As I reflect on this, I concede the points being made by David Steindl-Rast.  Each person does have the ability to turn their meagre existence into a thing of joy or a thing to be endured simply through the attitude a person brings to the table.  However, I also know that Karl Marx taught that religion was the opiate of the masses and Joe Hill, the labor organizer of the 1920’s, famously pointed out that the oppressors use to their advantage that very message: be contented with your lot in life because you will be rewarded in heaven when you die while we rich people will only get our rewards here on earth.  So sometimes it is important to stay angry.