What Does It Mean to Be Grateful?

Gratitude isn't just in our head: It takes root in our heart and in our senses, for one beautiful moment...and then the next. Here are three ways to practice gratitude, from a.m. to p.m.

Illustration by Dawid Ryski

The breaking day was shimmering with the buzz of nature going about its business. Breathing in, I felt awakened by the delicate bite of the early spring air. Breathing out, I felt my warm breath rise like a morning prayer. There was nothing special going on, only gently bubbling stillness and beauty all around. A moment of peace. I felt grateful to be present and noticing.

What does it mean to be grateful? Thankfully, it doesn’t mean convincing yourself of some bogus notion that everything’s fine and dandy. Living your life with gratitude means choosing to focus your time and attention on what you appreciate. The goal is not to block out difficulties, but to approach those difficulties from a different perspective. Appreciation softens us. It soothes our turbulent minds by connecting us with the wonderfully ordinary things, great and small, that we might otherwise take for granted.

Go ahead and take gratitude for a spin right now. Think of anything at all in your life that you can feel thankful for: that driver who yielded when you realized you were in the wrong lane, the fact that the sun rose this morning, any quality in yourself that you…