It takes a certain amount of discipline to be a thankful person. For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally. We have to choose to be grateful rather than ungrateful — and we have to choose to express our gratitude. But these choices are well worth making.
More Enthusiastic Ideas
Practice is the key to learning. Whatever the topic, our understanding of it is not likely to grow if we merely sit around and think about it. Study is profitable, but our questions in life are answered not in the study but on the battlefield.
But let’s be honest: how many people do you actually know whose lives have been damaged by too much exactness? Very few, I guess. On the other hand, we all know some who have suffered from too much carelessness.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” So if we want to see grandeur, it’s all around us. It’s in the trees, the grass, and the clouds, not to mention the mountains, the oceans, and the stars.
Pascal was right: “Experience makes us see an enormous difference between piety and goodness.” Piety is goodness for God’s sake, and it will move us considerably beyond the kind of goodness that stems from personal preference and social respectability.
Perhaps it is the pride that comes from our prosperity. Or maybe it is that our scientific progress has led us to believe there is no problem we can’t solve. Whatever the reason may be, it is not often that we bow humbly before God in prayer.
One of the greatest insights we can have is recognizing that life is a collaborative venture. Our individual roles need to be played in such a way that they help, rather than hinder, the work that our “team” is trying to accomplish.
We would be happier if we were more observant, and if we took the time to relish the simple pleasures. Benjamin Franklin was right: “Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day.”
In this life, we never get to the point where virtue is automatic. Wisdom may tell us what we need to do and our conscience may urge us in that direction, but there is always the matter of courage: will we or won’t we do what is right?
There is only one earthly success that really matters: making the unique (and sometimes private) contribution to the world that we are individually capable of making. In the end, you and I will have succeeded if we, by God’s grace, have become our very best selves.