TED Talk by David Steindl-Rast
”The one thing all humans have in common is that each of us wants to be happy,” says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a monk and interfaith scholar. I agree with Brother David and watched his TED Talk with great interest as he made his case for the need to be grateful, in order to be happy… rather than the other way around. What each of us imagines will make us happy might be different, but the desire for the feeling is universal.
How often have you heard someone say, “If only that would happen, I know that I would be happy?” Brother David suggests, or should I say, “strongly suggests,” that happiness is born from “the gentle power of gratefulness.” Slow down, look around you.
The assumption is that when we are happy, we are grateful. Brother David wants us to believe that those who practice gratitude, who feel gratefulness, are the ones who are truly happy.
We all know people who we believe “have everything,” but they profess to be unhappy and are constantly searching for something they may not have or want more of. And there are people for whom misfortune seems to appear frequently, yet they somehow radiate happiness. Brother David believes it is because they feel gratitude.
He explains that gratitude stems from our experiences. When we experience something that is of great value to us and is given to us — really given, which means we haven’t bought it or even earned it — gratefulness spontaneously arises and happiness follows.
Taking it a little further, Brother David tells us that by becoming aware that every moment is a given moment, it’s a gift. Each moment contains an opportunity to do anything or experience anything, thereby making it a gift within a gift.
“We cannot be grateful for everything,” he says. Certainly not for war or for oppression or for exploitation. Or on a personal level, the loss of a friend. But even when we are confronted with something that is difficult, we can rise to the occasion and respond to the opportunity that is given to us.
Although Brother David’s explanation of grateful living seems a bit confusing at certain points, I think that it’s worth the effort to listen to the talk and then, perhaps, to read the text. It will take work to walk the path of grateful living, but Brother David makes a good case for its worthiness.
Take a moment to check it out. I think you will feel grateful that you did and can happiness be far behind?