A Teaching Story about Gratitude

from The Wisdom of Islam: An Introduction to the Living Experience of Islamic Belief and Practice by Robert Frager

"God is the ultimate source of all life and all good that comes to us. Think about all you have to be grateful for — your life, your loved ones, the roof over your head, your health, and so on.

"My Sufi master used to teach that the best way to express gratitude for a gift is to use it well. For example, if someone were to give you an automobile, it would be extremely ungrateful to let that car sit and rust in a garage, or to drive it without maintaining it until it broke down. To be grateful for the gift of a car means to use it well and maintain it conscientiously.

"To be grateful for the gift of intelligence is to develop your intelligence by ongoing study, to use your intelligence to help others, and to seek to understand God's creation and God's Truth. To be grateful for the gift of material abundance is to share your wealth with those in need.

"Be generous with your other gifts as well. For example, you have been given the gift of time; be generous and spend time with the lonely. You have been given a heart; give compassion to the heartbroken. Make a list of all you have to be grateful for, and then make a second list of all the ways you can express your gratitude."

Personal Explorations

Explore our Gratitude Homepage. You'll find a veritable cornucopia of resources on this spiritual practice: recommended books, movies about the need for and ways to give thanks, teaching stories, spiritual exercises, and a household project for expanding your circle of gratitude.

Spiritual Practices

See our collection of Ways to Practice Thanks-giving, a countdown to Thanksgiving Day.


Gregg Krech's book Naikan: Gratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection, a Best Spiritual Books Award winner, presents a wonderful daily discipline for discovering the layers of blessing in our lives. Be thankful for your Thanksgiving dinner, of course, but also for your roof, your furnace, and the lane lines on the highway. Read about Gregg's work and his Naikan workshops at ToDoInstitute.org.