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Gratitude as a Buoy

Recently, while taking some quiet reflection time, I decided to focus on gratitude. My mind immediately began scrolling through a list of things and people I am grateful for, but something in me that morning said, No, not the familiar list; just look to the present moment and see what there is to be grateful for here and now. Following this prompt, I composed a few verses that I later put to a simple melody:

In this moment

I am grateful

for my breath—

just this breath

filling me

in this moment

I am grateful.

The three other verses included:

...for my body—

just this body

as it is…


...for you—

just for you

as you are…


...for my life—

just this life

as it is

in this moment

I am grateful.

At first I thought I’d composed a simple song with four verses, but I soon realized that new verses can be written in response to any moment. On a recent Sunday morning when Claudia and I were taking turns sharing gratitude in this way, she said:

In this moment

I am grateful

for this breeze—

just this breeze

on my skin

in this moment

I am grateful.

I responded with a verse expressing gratitude for a bluebird flying by, and we continued going back and forth like that for fifteen minutes or so.

A line by contemporary author Anne Lamott brings a smile whenever I think of it: “My mind is like a bad neighborhood. I try never to go there alone.” Of all the places I can frequent in the neighborhood of my own mind on a busy or stressful day, in-the-moment gratitude seems like one of the best options.

Life brings us all many storms, some that roll in with the day’s challenging external events, but more that develop from inner turbulence that signals we have allowed reactive emotions and thoughts to lead us far from the buoy of in-the-moment gratitude.

From this practice of trying to meet more and more moments with gratitude, I’m realizing that gratitude has until now been for me a very part-time gig--something I might remember to tune into occasionally. It’s as if the air traffic controller in my mind only looks at the computer monitor once or twice a day, leaving me at risk for plenty of (mostly small and familiar) emotional or spiritual crashes the rest of the day.

I’m starting to try to let the first sign of inner or bodily stress be a cue to go right to “In this moment, I am grateful for….” When I become aware that my inner waters are getting a bit choppy, I can make the choice to swim back to the buoy of gratitude. What would my inner world, or yours, be like if gratitude showed up one or two hundred times per day instead of once or twice?

After writing the gratitude song, it kept running through my mind constantly for several days. I started wondering if I was developing OGD (obsessive gratitude disorder)--a highly abnormal pattern in our society indicative of excellent spiritual health!