The practice of gratitude teaches us, as the theologian Christine D. Pohl put it, “the giftedness of our total existence.” This posture of receptiveness — living as the thankful beneficiary of gifts — is the path of happiness because it reminds us that we do not have to be the makers and sustainers of our whole life. Gratitude is how we embrace beauty without clutching it so tightly that we strangle it.
And it involves approaching the commonplace with awe. Babies have this. They can look at a set of keys in absolute wonderment, feeling the smooth edges, the jagged parts, looking at the shiny metal. We lose this wonder as we navigate a far more complex world but give up something at the same time. To spend a few minutes every day in awe of something would be time well spent.