Want to be happy? Be grateful | David Steindl-Rast

Want to be happy? Be grateful | David Steindl-Rast

There is something you know about me, something very personal, and there is something
I know about every one of you and that’s very central to your concerns. There is something that we know about everyone we meet
anywhere in the world, on the street, that is the very mainspring
of whatever they do and whatever they put up with. And that is that all of us
want to be happy. In this, we are all together. How we imagine our happiness,
that differs from one another, but it’s already a lot
that we have all in common, that we want to be happy. Now my topic is gratefulness. What is the connection
between happiness and gratefulness? Many people would say,
well, that’s very easy. When you are happy, you are grateful. But think again. Is it really the happy people
that are grateful? We all know quite a number of people who have everything
that it would take to be happy, and they are not happy, because they want something else
or they want more of the same. And we all know people
who have lots of misfortune, misfortune that we ourselves
would not want to have, and they are deeply happy. They radiate happiness. You are surprised. Why? Because they are grateful. So it is not happiness
that makes us grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes us happy. If you think it’s happiness
that makes you grateful, think again. It’s gratefulness that makes you happy. Now, we can ask, what do we really mean by gratefulness? And how does it work? I appeal to your own experience. We all know from experience how it goes. We experience something
that’s valuable to us. Something is given to us
that’s valuable to us. And it’s really given. These two things have to come together. It has to be something valuable,
and it’s a real gift. You haven’t bought it.
You haven’t earned it. You haven’t traded it in.
You haven’t worked for it. It’s just given to you. And when these two things come together, something that’s really valuable to me
and I realize it’s freely given, then gratefulness spontaneously
rises in my heart, happiness spontaneously rises in my heart. That’s how gratefulness happens. Now the key to all this is that we cannot only
experience this once in a while. We cannot only have grateful experiences. We can be people who live gratefully. Grateful living, that is the thing. And how can we live gratefully? By experiencing, by becoming aware that every moment
is a given moment, as we say. It’s a gift. You haven’t earned it. You haven’t brought it about in any way. You have no way of assuring that there will be
another moment given to you, and yet, that’s the most valuable thing
that can ever be given to us, this moment, with all the opportunity
that it contains. If we didn’t have this present moment, we wouldn’t have
any opportunity to do anything or experience anything, and this moment is a gift. It’s a given moment, as we say. Now, we say the gift within this gift
is really the opportunity. What you are really grateful for
is the opportunity, not the thing that is given to you, because if that thing were somewhere else and you didn’t have
the opportunity to enjoy it, to do something with it, you wouldn’t be grateful for it. Opportunity is the gift within every gift, and we have this saying,
opportunity knocks only once. Well, think again. Every moment is a new gift,
over and over again, and if you miss the opportunity
of this moment, another moment is given to us,
and another moment. We can avail ourselves
of this opportunity, or we can miss it, and if we avail ourselves
of the opportunity, it is the key to happiness. Behold the master key to our happiness in our own hands. Moment by moment,
we can be grateful for this gift. Does that mean that we can be grateful for everything? Certainly not. We cannot be grateful
for violence, for war, for oppression, for exploitation. On the personal level,
we cannot be grateful for the loss of a friend,
for unfaithfulness, for bereavement. But I didn’t say
we can be grateful for everything. I said we can be grateful
in every given moment for the opportunity, and even when we are confronted
with something that is terribly difficult, we can rise to this occasion and respond to the opportunity
that is given to us. It isn’t as bad as it might seem. Actually, when you look at it
and experience it, you find that most of the time, what is given to us
is the opportunity to enjoy, and we only miss it
because we are rushing through life and we are not stopping
to see the opportunity. But once in a while, something very difficult is given to us, and when this difficult thing
occurs to us, it’s a challenge to rise
to that opportunity, and we can rise to it
by learning something which is sometimes painful. Learning patience, for instance. We have been told that the road to peace is not a sprint,
but is more like a marathon. That takes patience. That’s difficult. It may be to stand up for your opinion,
to stand up for your conviction. That’s an opportunity that is given to us. To learn, to suffer, to stand up, all these opportunities are given to us, but they are opportunities, and those who avail themselves
of those opportunities are the ones that we admire. They make something out of life. And those who fail
get another opportunity. We always get another opportunity. That’s the wonderful richness of life. So how can we find a method
that will harness this? How can each one of us find a method
for living gratefully, not just once in a while being grateful, but moment by moment to be grateful. How can we do it?
It’s a very simple method. It’s so simple that it’s actually
what we were told as children when we learned to cross the street. Stop. Look. Go. That’s all. But how often do we stop? We rush through life. We don’t stop. We miss the opportunity
because we don’t stop. We have to stop. We have to get quiet. And we have to build
stop signs into our lives. When I was in Africa
some years ago and then came back, I noticed water. In Africa where I was,
I didn’t have drinkable water. Every time I turned on the faucet,
I was overwhelmed. Every time I clicked on the light,
I was so grateful. It made me so happy. But after a while, this wears off. So I put little stickers
on the light switch and on the water faucet, and every time I turned it on, water. So leave it up to your own imagination. You can find whatever works best for you, but you need stop signs in your life. And when you stop, then the next thing is to look. You look. You open your eyes. You open your ears. You open your nose. You open all your senses for this wonderful richness
that is given to us. There is no end to it,
and that is what life is all about, to enjoy, to enjoy what is given to us. And then we can also open our hearts, our hearts for the opportunities, for the opportunities also to help others, to make others happy, because nothing makes us more happy
than when all of us are happy. And when we open
our hearts to the opportunities, the opportunities invite us
to do something, and that is the third. Stop, look, and then go,
and really do something. And what we can do is whatever life offers to you
in that present moment. Mostly it’s the opportunity to enjoy, but sometimes
it’s something more difficult. But whatever it is,
if we take this opportunity, we go with it, we are creative,
those are the creative people. And that little stop, look, go, is such a potent seed that it can revolutionize our world. Because we are at the present moment in the middle of a change
of consciousness, and you will be surprised if you — I am always surprised
when I hear how many times this word “gratefulness”
and “gratitude” comes up. Everywhere you find it, a grateful airline,
a restaurant gratefulness, a café gratefulness,
a wine that is gratefulness. Yes, I have even come across
a toilet paper whose brand is called “Thank You.” (Laughter) There is a wave of gratefulness because people are becoming aware
how important this is and how this can change our world. It can change our world
in immensely important ways, because if you’re grateful,
you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful,
you’re not violent. If you’re grateful,
you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying
the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid
under which we live. And it doesn’t make for equality,
but it makes for equal respect, and that is the important thing. The future of the world will be a network, not a pyramid turned upside down. The revolution of which I am speaking
is a nonviolent revolution, and it’s so revolutionary
that it even revolutionizes the very concept of a revolution, because the normal revolution is one where the power pyramid
is turned upside down and those who were on the bottom
are now on the top and are doing exactly the same thing
that the ones before. What we need is a networking
of smaller groups, smaller and smaller groups
who know one another, who interact with one another,
and that is a grateful world. A grateful world
is a world of joyful people. Grateful people are joyful people, and joyful people — the more and more joyful people there are, the more and more
we’ll have a joyful world. We have a network for grateful living,
and it has mushroomed. We couldn’t understand why it mushroomed. We have an opportunity
for people to light a candle when they are grateful for something. And there have been
15 million candles lit in one decade. People are becoming aware
that a grateful world is a happy world, and we all have the opportunity
by the simple stop, look, go, to transform the world,
to make it a happy place. And that is what I hope for us, and if this has contributed a little
to making you want to do the same, stop, look, go. Thank you. (Applause)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Cannot rave enough about the depth of this talk. It says every time something other and meaningful when I watch. It’s absolutely amazing

  2. He wears the garb representing the epitome of egotistical religionism. The house that Emperor Constantine and Athanasius of Egypt built.

  3. Grateful you should be , a habit you should make of it , wake up and first thing grateful you ought think my lil padawas..

  4. Also such humility as they clap he doesn't linger he ignores it and moves on. That's real independence isn't it.

  5. Everyone deserves happiness and so many go in search for things that will make them happy but it comes from within. But we have to learn to be grateful when things aren't going the way we'd want.

  6. Good lord , heavy accent and heavy lisp it’s very difficult to drive and listen to this and catch everything he is saying

  7. Yes, the mentor here is right. Seldom people got happy in such a faster society because of the life supports and etc. People are unhappy. Faith is what people lack. Maybe you don't agree with what I've said, but actually this is what I've experienced. This is a cruel world but hope is everywhere. So, don't be sad, dude, just live the life you want. Okay, You are greater than what you thought you were.

  8. Hey guys I go on walks and talk about life on my channel. My latest video is about being grateful. I’m grateful for 8 subscribers, and anymore that come through. 🙏

  9. This talk touched my heart and helped me out of a 4 month lasting depression and suicidal thoughts. Thanks man, continue that way, I found to gratefulness, happiness and God.

  10. My intention to embrace a life of appreciation in every moment of my life with pure positive attitude of gratitude for small to big things thank you universe.

  11. Want to be happy? Be happy. Want to be sad? Be sad. Want to be grateful? Be grateful. Want to be thankless? Be thankless. We all get to be whatever we choose to be. Reality is not collective, but rather individual.

  12. Longitude or Latitude my attitude is always gratitude
    try being grateful for something done for you without your knowledge or informing you what was done . yes you are grateful but its like young child saying sorry – and you have to ask what hey are sorry for?
    not knowing what tho be grateful for initial makes you happy as its a natural reaction,
    but when you ask what did you do :
    when did you do it
    why did you do it
    can be quite stressful not know if there will be a back lash
    not know what was done means you don't know what to look out for to stop you repeating
    it may also have been something that you would have liked to be involved to help fix it

  13. Gratitude… a high virtue. “I want you to be happy … to laugh, smile and rejoice in order that others may be made happy by you.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha, , Baha'i Faith

  14. It is said the first step in our spiritual journey can only commence when we begin to show gratitude . Now i know why.Thank you Br David for your simple but very profound words.

  15. Zufrieden werden durch dankbarkeit und respekt. Zufrieden reicht mir..dann ist glücklich werden wie ein genussmittel und damit ein genuss…with love manuel

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