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Gratitude is one of those words that no one disagrees with, as in: “Well, of course we should all be grateful. And now pass the salad, please. Nothing more to really discuss about that, is there?”
So it is that we subtly, even insidiously, avoid the tremendous powers of some of our greatest gifts: by simply viewing them as a given. If something’s obvious, then why investigate it further? But the obviousness of a concept like, “You should always say thank you,” hides an entire world of possibilities. If I give you a drink of water and you say thank you, then I’m more likely to want to give you another one should you become thirsty again. But if I give you a drink of water and you don’t have the courtesy to say thank you, then I’m more likely to figure you can get your own darn glass of water next time.
The same is true with the universe—not to anthropomorphize it or ascribe to it the characteristics of a petty ego. It’s just that whether we’re talking about other people, or the Creator itself, there is something about the expression of gratitude that opens doors that do not otherwise open. This is a spiritual fact.
As Angeles Arrien makes eloquently clear in this lovely treatise on the powers of gratitude, the modern mind is deeply in need of a more contemplative dimension. Blessings, mercy, tenderness, nature, forgiveness, and compassionate relationships exist in our world, yet they compete with the noise and obsessions of video games, computers, greed, and peer pressure. We know we’re off balance, yet we often struggle to realign ourselves. Rarely do we realize that if we simply take time to marvel at life’s gifts and give thanks for them, we activate stunning opportunities to increase their influence in our lives. Throughout her career, Arrien has been one of our most able guides along the path to restoring and revitalizing our psyche. With this book, she continues to weave her unique and magical spell; she deepens our understanding of words and concepts we already appreciate intellectually but might not feel in our hearts. Through her tutelage, we come to understand these concepts on the level that counts—deep within us.
Simply reading this book is an act of power, as it gently casts superfluous considerations out of your mind and focuses you on things that matter most. You will re-engage truths that most of us already know yet keep at an emotional distance. What you knew, but only abstractly, will become knowledge that both informs your soul and transforms your life.
Reading this book and learning from its lessons, you will focus on the blessings and spiritual treasures of life—from the beauty of a bird’s song to an act of selfless service. Such things will become as meaningful and as important to you as any material thing you value now. Your mind will strengthen, your heart will soften, your relationship to nature will be enriched, and your own internal landscape will be re-greened. You will see yourself and others in a more beautiful and truthful light. And you will be deeply grateful for all of the above.
—Marianne Williamson, June 2011