Thankfulness is an attitude not an emotion. It is a disposition toward others that requires self awareness, humility, and appreciation. To be thankful is to be conscious of one’s place in creation as creature, receiver, and giver. We are relational beings and thanksgiving acknowledges that we exist and thrive in relationships. By grace we come to know a truth, all of us have received far more than we can give.
Thankfulness requires that we value ourselves, the gifts we receive, and the givers who offered them. It is a way of knowing. To be thankful is to know not only the value of what we have received, but also the great worth of the giver. Thus thankfulness invites wisdom to discern the difference between the gift and the giver, the urgent and the important, the temporal and the eternal. It raises the bar from “for what should I be thankful” to “to whom should I be thankful?”
Thankfulness taps into our emotions and often calls forth happiness. It is truly a blessed state in which to live for it opens joyous possibilities. But thankfulness is not an emotion and it is not dependent on our feelings. There are times when we just don’t feel thankful, and that is acceptable. At least, I am thankful that I believe this, for I often do not feel thankful even when I know I am.
January 25, 2010