Q: I have a problem with the notion of gratefulness: When I am grateful for the relative ease of the life I lead, it underscores the inequities throughout the world to an unbearable extent. How can I be happy or grateful for having been born here rather than in Haiti or Congo or Iraq or China? To be grateful for the good fortune of our lives intimates that “the other” is not as blessed. How am I better than they? I can’t make that judgment. About all I can do is observe and try where and whenever possible to help others. The trouble with gratitude is that one feels somehow that whatever is received was deserved. Why should I be more deserving than anyone else in the larger scheme of things? — A.L., USA

A: +Dear A., you wrote, “The trouble with gratitude is that one feels somehow that whatever is received was deserved. Why should I be more deserving than anyone else in the larger scheme of things?” You could of course go back to an experience of gratefulness and explore it still more deeply to discover that at its very core there is the feeling of utter undeservedness. Perhaps you’re familiar with the Gospel thought that God lets rain fall “on the just and the unjust alike” — whereby the just may very well be the others.

The richness of blessings you feel in your own life gives you an abundance out of which you can let healing flow towards the suffering which both you and i feel so keenly in our world right now. It makes me happy that we are connected through peacemaking efforts and the Gratefulness site.

— Your Brother David


Br. David Steindl-Rast
Q&A
Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

About the author
Brother David Steindl-Rast — author, scholar, and Benedictine monk — is beloved the world over for his enduring message about gratefulness as the true source of lasting happiness. Known to many as the “grandfather of gratitude,” Br. David has been a source of inspiration and spiritual friendship to countless leaders and luminaries around the world including Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, and more. He has been one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, and has taught with thought-leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, and Roshi Joan Halifax. His wisdom has been featured in recent interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Krista Tippett, and Tami Simon and his TED talk has been viewed almost 10,000,000 times. Learn more about Br. David here.