Last week, Dr. Dan Gottleib of WHYY hosted his final weekly Voices in the Family. He focused this final show on gratitude. As callers thanked Dr. Dan for giving them something– courage or patience or thanks… he responded: “I don’t give anyone anything that isn’t already there. It’s about seeing what’s already there.” (paraphrased)
Seeing what’s already there– this is Judaism’s approach to Thanksgiving. One Hebrew term for gratitude is “hakarat hatov.” The word thanks isn’t even in there. Hakarat hatov means “recognizing the good.” The good is already there. It’s our mitzvah, our sacred action to, call it out. Why is it so important to call out the good — to see what’s already there?
One response comes from Ron Lieber, a Reform Jew and the author of The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money. Lieber believes that saying grace is one of the single best things parents can do for their kids — no matter what god you do or don’t believe in. He explains there’s a link between gratitude and lower levels of envy and depression, because gratitude helps us to feel a sense of satisfaction, a sense of enough. Read the rest of this entry »