Last week I shared an essay of Brendan Busse, S.J., who wrote at The Jesuit Post about gratitude as the antidote to anxiety. Yesterday, from a different angle, David Brooks reflected upon the subject at his space at The New York Times. Quoting G.K. Chesterton, and admitting his own struggles to be both thankful and patient, Brooks noted,
We live in a capitalist meritocracy that encourages individualism and utilitarianism, ambition and pride. But this society would fall apart if not for another economy, one in which gifts surpass expectations, in which insufficiency is acknowledged and dependence celebrated.
Gratitude, of course, is especially important to Christian spirituality, and was an attitude (and practice) very dear for St. Ignatius. We are to be grateful because our very existence is a gift. Everything is gratuitous. With the academic year approaching soon, I find myself asking how I can animate attitudes of gratitude not only in myself, but in my students as well. We invite them to win games and ace AP tests, to visit shelters and help the homeless: but do we teach them to be thankful?