Q: I am 17 years old and I am doing a major school project on gratitude/thankfulness. As Sir John Templeton asked: “How can we get six billion people around the world to practice gratitude?” I want to create a training program at my school. For my project it would be amazing, if you could answer the following questions for me. — Rafael Ruch, Zurich, Switzerland
Br. David Steindl-Rast answers Rafael’s questions…
What are you grateful/thankful for in the last year (2013)?
On a personal level, I am grateful that my health held out, in spite of my old age (87), that I was able to write and travel and lecture and spend time with good friends.
What are you grateful/thankful for in general/in your life?
Although I am not always as mindful of it as I would like to be, I am grateful for every single moment, because every moment offers me a new opportunity as a completely free gift. Specifically, I am grateful for the many opportunities to enjoy life through all my senses and to share this joy with others.
How does gratitude affect you/your state of being?
Whenever I am grateful, I feel more joyful, more awake, and energized in mind and body: I feel “in tune with Life.”
Have there been life-changing events/moments/situations in your life, which you are thankful for?
Several times in my life I was in immediate danger of death (almost being hit by a train at an open train-crossing, or facing an enemy machine-gun pointing directly at me from a few feet away, or having no food and thinking that I might die from starvation). At such moments I learned to appreciate life and live gratefully.
My life was also changed by discovering a simple method for grateful living: “Stop, Look, Go!” “Stop,” so as not to rush past the opportunity of the moment; “Look,” for the given opportunity; and “Go!” meaning “make something of this given opportunity here and now!”