“It can be relatively easy to hold an ‘attitude of gratitude’ when we have what we need, get what we want, and inventory happy occurrences in our journals at the end of a day. It is quite another proposition to still feel grateful when life brings us and others circumstances none of us would willingly choose.”

Kristi Nelson

In defining gratitude, we established that gratitude is a feeling you experience in response to something good happening, most typically toward someone for giving you something you wanted. The challenge with focusing solely on gratitude is that it is highly dependent on external circumstances outside of your individual control. Gratitude comes easily when things are going well, but how can you connect with gratitude when life inevitably gets challenging?

From Gratitude to Gratefulness

Gratefulness is a “state” or quality of being grateful that can provide you a deeper, more unconditional, and robust experience of gratitude.

Unlike gratitude, gratefulness does not require you to wait for outside circumstances to conform to your desires. It isn’t positive thinking or spiritual bypassing. Gratefulness is consciously choosing to adopt a grateful orientation to life. It empowers you to approach your life with the capacity for a grateful perspective, no matter what happens.

As Br. David-Steindl Rast says, “We cannot be grateful for all that a given moment brings us; yet, in any given moment, we can be grateful for something. The gift within the gift of any given moment is opportunity.” When you learn to cultivate an internal quality of gratefulness on a daily basis, you recognize that you possess the ability to bring gratitude to life.

This video excerpt from our foundational course, Wake Up Grateful: Open Your Heart to Life, further articulates the distinctions between gratitude and gratefulness:

Deepening Resources:

What is Grateful Living?

Grateful Living is a way of life grounded in guiding principles that allow you to make gratefulness a daily, moment-to-moment practice. The guiding principles help you to be present, cultivate perspective, and connect with a sense of possibility no matter your circumstances. Living gratefully brings deeper peace, greater well-being, and an enhanced capacity for joy.

Grateful Living is comprised of the Five Guiding Principles, and Br. David Steindl-Rast’s foundational Stop.Look.Go practice.

Five Guiding Principles of Grateful Living

  1. Life Is a Gift. When you greet each moment gratefully, you are always receiving.
  2. Everything Is Surprise. When you open to wonder, opportunities abound.
  3. The Ordinary Is Extraordinary. When you take nothing for granted, life is abundant.
  4. Appreciation Is Generative. When you tend what you value, what you value thrives.
  5. Love Is Transformative. When you embrace the great fullness of life, your heart overflows.

Guiding Practice of Grateful Living: Stop.Look.Go

The guiding practice of Grateful Living enhances our ability to be present, expands our perspective, and awakens us to possibility. It has three main components:

  1. Stop. Cultivate Presence.
  2. Look. Cultivate Perspective.
  3. Go. Cultivate Possibility.

Watch this video discussion between Br. David Steindl-Rast and Kristi Nelson, recoded in April 2021, for an introduction to Stop.Look.Go:

Deepening Resources:

Our website is filled with inspiration and guidance to support you in the practice of Grateful Living. Explore our extensive Content Library, join our global community to connect with others around the globe who are practicing Grateful Living, and discover our range of ongoing practices and courses.

Appreciation is Generative