Robert Emmons, one of the world’s leading scientific experts on gratitude, says there are two component to gratitude. The first is to recognize that although life is not perfect, we benefit from many good things, including being alive.
The second is to recognize the source of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. True gratitude involves a humble dependence on others, acknowledging that people and G-d, gives us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.
The problem we face is that we’re not comfortable being dependent. In fact, in Hebrew, thankfulness shares the same root as admission – when we are thankful, we admit that we are dependent.
The spiritual root of our hesitancy to admit dependency is that G-d created us with the independent ability to create our spiritual reality through our free will based good choices. Thankfulness runs counter to this spiritual independence at the core of our soul.
The solution is to willingly give up a piece of our independence through the inherently dependent process of being thankful. Choosing dependency in relation to G-d connects us to something infinitely greater then ourselves. So as you enjoy your food, friends and football this Thanksgiving, put a heaping portion of gratitude on your plate – you’ll be bigger, in the right places, as a result.