The Importance of Gratitude


Contributed by board member, The Rev. Phil Hardwick

I can remember the first time that I realized the importance of gratitude. I was five or six years old. I had the great good fortune of having a Sunday school teacher who knew how to communicate to children in ways that they could understand. She liked to use object lessons. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving that year, we came to class and she had a pitcher on a table in the corner of the room that was partially filled with a red liquid. She invited us to engage that container with all of our senses. She invited us to look at it, to taste it, to feel how heavy it was. And then after we had done that for a while, she asked a simple question: “Tell me, is this pitcher half empty or half full?”

Well, a little boy in the class who was always given to negativism, quickly said, “It’s half empty!”

Another one of my classmates said, “No, it’s half full!”

So back and forth the debate went and then the teacher said, “You know, you’re both technically correct. Either of those descriptions is right. But it makes all the difference in the world whether or not you focus on what is there and are grateful for it or whether you focus on what is not there and therefore are depressed by it.

That happened well over fifty years ago and here I am reminding myself and reminding you that the choice to be grateful is incredibly significant. That was when I was five or six years old. I have lived a long time since then, but everywhere I look this basic truth about gratitude is always confirmed.

Happy Thanksgiving!