My mother is visiting this week. As a result, my daughter and I attended Sunday Mass with her for the second time in our lives (our family wasn’t Catholic growing up). In between answering my daughter’s questions (“When are we going to leave?” “When is he going to stop talking?” “When are we going to sing again?”) I actually got to listen to some of the service (for this reason, I really like that so much of the stuff is written down in the little book at Catholic services. I can go back and review if I miss the details). The gospel reading was from Luke 17: 11-19 about Jesus healing 10 lepers and only one of them returning to thank him. The homily addressed this reading, with Monsignor describing “thank you” as the simplest prayer. With all of the thinking I’ve been doing about gratitude, this struck a chord with me.
Maybe it really could be as simple as that. Just a heartfelt “thank you” about something at the end of the day. Maybe it’s not necessary to over-think this gratitude thing.
The positive effect of the Mass for me was only slightly marred when, while the priests were preparing the Eucharist, the guy across the aisle from us popped his son (who appeared to be about six years old) on the bottom for making noise. The pop on the butt was louder than the noises the boy was making. I felt sad for the child. Even though he didn’t cry and did stay silent after being corrected in this way, it just struck me as sad for him to be punished for doing something that any child (including mine) would do during a 55-minute Mass.
Back on the topic of gratitude, though, I found a post on Rebecca Overson’s Clarity Coaching blog about her gratitude practice using the process of Naikan. The way it works is that you choose one person in your life and ask yourself three questions:
1) What have I received from this person?
2) What have I given to this person?
3) What troubles or difficulties have I caused this person?
I like the orderliness and thoroughness of this process, with the list of questions and all, but I think I might do better to start simple and just note one thing each day about which I’m thankful. I’m intimidated enough by this whole gratitude thing, and it might feel less intimidating to start with events and actions rather than people. I might also note one act of generosity in which I’ve engaged each day, just to cover my bases. Then I could, if I wanted to, use Naikan as kind of an Advanced Gratitude Practice once I’m all comfy with the basic practice.