Key Teachings

  • Possibility is a perpetual invitation into the imaginable — this is a place of creativity, humility, and awakening
  • Possibility is about the attainable, not the miraculous
  • The possible is always among us and it is discovered in stillness
  • Every moment is possibility made observable
  • Transcendent imagination shows us all that is impermanent and possible, making gratefulness a revolutionary resistance to binary perspectives

Hope is a passion for the possible.

Br. David Steindl-Rast

There are days — even whole seasons — when the realm of what is possible but not yet present appears increasingly less accessible, seldom part of political discourse, and far from our hearts. Many of us are content to limit what we imagine possible, living in a dirge of black and white rather than in a spectrum of colors. Hues, tints, saturation, and variances are forgotten, and binary thinking has taken us to the opposite side of gradation. This is the terrain where people get lost, not in a rugged landscape but in catastrophic thinking and apathy.

There is a deep courage within those who seek the possible. These seekers teach us to be realistically present to our imagination and to take risks. This is because possibility is actionable — it is a perpetual invitation into the imaginable, where creativity, humility, and perception are birthed — where metaphor comes alive and breathes truth into what was, is, and will be.  Seeking the possible is not the pursuit of an unlikely miracle, even though the moment the possible becomes tangible may be quite a miraculous arrival. The possible is always among us — in its constancy, it simply waits in silence to be discovered. 

The grateful perspective is on the lookout for the possible at all times and in all manners, making the discovery of what is possible achievable. The peacebuilding scholar John Paul Lederach says one of the hardest lessons for social activists to learn about sustainable change is that “stillness is the prerequisite to observation and the development of a capacity to see what exists. Seeing what exists is the prerequisite for transcendent imagination.” Stillness, he says, is not inactivity. “It is a commitment of patience and watchfulness.” Stop. Observe what is (look). Transcend and take action (go). 

The practice of grateful living is stillness – it transcends, integrates, and awakens, us to the possible. Our grateful presence — our stillness — allows us to observe, perceive, and then act.

Grateful living gives us a clear perspective, which makes it a radical way of being in today’s time. We don’t need to be disheartened by war and politics to see this. The pace of modern life with its expectations and demands, chronic technology consumption, systems focused on scarcity, and the degradation of community structures, shows us that there is a revolutionary resistance baked into the grateful life. 

The resistance goes like this: the grateful practitioner stops into stillness. As a practitioner, you look at your life and every moment exactly as it is, unbiased and unfiltered — in other words, courageously. You are the observer of this moment’s unfolding. In your observations, you see for yourself and do not depend on what you have been told. Your observations are as real as what is possible because what you are witnessing is the possible made observable, moment after moment, possibility after possibility. In this still observation, your watchfulness, as Lederach says, becomes transcendent. You see the moments unfolding, but now you can change their course by perceiving a progression that is set forth by your transcendent imagination. You see that this is how it is presently, not permanently. You envision what has always been known: within every life and every moment is a spectrum of colors, a gift wrapped in possibility.

As Br. David Steindl-Rast tells us, it is enough to be grateful for the next breath. And that is because within each inhale and exhale exists all possibility. How wonderfully outrageous!

Reflection Questions

  • Where have you contented yourself to accept limits on what you imagine as possible?
  • What feels impossible to you right now and how might a practice of stillness (Stop.Look.Go) expand your sense of possibility?

Photo by Niilo Isotalo

Joe Primo, Grateful Living

Joe Primo, Grateful Living

About the author

Joe Primo is the Chief Executive Officer of Grateful Living. He is a passionate trainer, community-builder, and program developer whose accomplishments in the field of grief made him a leading voice on resilience and adversity. Grateful living became a pillar to his work since his first introduction to Br. David Steindl-Rast in 2005. An entrepreneurial leader, Primo designed, built, expanded, and led Good Grief, Inc., the largest children and family bereavement organization in the Northeast, from 2007-2022. His TED talk, “Grief is Good,” reframed the grief paradigm as a responsive resource. He is the author of “What Do We Tell the Children? Talking to Kids About Death and Dying” and numerous articles.