Core Decorum: giving thanks

Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

It can be hard to motivate oneself to do anything. It’s all too easy for “an object at rest remains at rest” to become a mantra for one’s life as a student. But for one reason or another, we have a responsibility to act.

Perhaps we can see a purpose in life by realizing that all action we take, big or small, will have an effect. It is not just that what we do matters, but the fact that we do it.

In the week before Thanksgiving, it is a good time to start reflecting on what others have done for us and how difficult it may have been for them to act. Recently, I have started taking note of three things I am grateful for at the end of every day. A simple task, but it has reminded me how rarely I reflect on all the things I have been given.

This practice has not only reminded me how much there is to be grateful for, but has helped me remember how much is possible. I am reminded of how easy it really can be to do something positive. It can be easier to be motivated when we have a little perspective.

Gratitude is difficult when it seems that we are being asked to give more than we receive. However, one may begin to reevaluate this attitude once one begins thinking about how much he owes to others. Rather than focusing only on what we do, we can remember that everyone is working just as hard as everyone else. Each of us is on our own path. Being grateful toward others will not only make us immediately more happy and appreciative, but also can help us to cultivate charity in the future and a willingness to return with our actions the good that we have received.

Instead of being quick to judge others, gratitude reminds us that everyone has something to offer. In times of loneliness and doubt, it can be very comforting to remember all the good things that we have experienced.

If Thanksgiving turkey isn’t your cup of tea, Nov. 11 is the feast day of St. Martin of Tours. St. Martin fought against heresy, was an exorcist, a miracle worker and bishop of Tours. St. Martin did not demand a lot from God or man, but “neither feared to die nor refused to live,” Saint Sulpicius Severus writes.

Regardless of how you prefer to practice gratitude or what your game bird of choice may be, gratitude can help us to find satisfaction in all that we are given and motivate us to do good in return.


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