'Grateful,' chapters 3-4
In these chapters, Diana Butler Bass moves from examining gratitude as an emotion and begins exploring the practices we can use to cultivate a more thankful attitude.
She writes: “To live gratefully involves a number of skills: noticing when a kindness is done or a benefit is received; returning the gift of thanks to the giver or embrace the sense of awe instilled; and sharing benefits with others as we are able. Like love, gratitude multiples through giving and receiving” (page 53).
Think of a situation in your life in which being grateful inspired you to be generous.
In chapter 4, Bass introduces the ideas of headwinds (difficulties) and tailwinds (advantages) as they relate to gratitude. She points out that we typically focus on headwinds, but tailwinds can be seen as blessings and called forth with thanks. She writes: “Blessings are not pious rewards for good behavior. Blessings are the ‘boost’ bestowed on us by systems, structures, families and other benefactors who assist us on our way” (page 84). What are your headwinds and tailwinds?
Feel free to ask and answer questions and share insights in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
It’s not too late to jump in to the book club! Get a copy from church and go at your own pace!
'Grateful,' chapters 1-2
Welcome to the second installment of our online book club!
The difference between reciprocal gratitude and grace couldn’t be more stark. Reciprocal gratitude is often an unbalance transaction, one used for leverage in an unequal relationship.
Grace is “unmerited favor” – gifts given with no expectation of return. As modeled by God to humanity, grace “is, as the old hymn says, amazing. Because you can neither earn nor pay back the gift, your heart fills with gratitude. And the power of that emotion transforms the way you see the world and experience life. Grace begets gratitude, which, in turn, widens our hearts toward greater goodness and love” (page 19).
In these chapters, the author also explains the feeling of gratitude:
“First, the situation matters. ... Second, the emotions that weave into gratitude range widely, from relief, appreciation and release to surprise, wonder or awe, and gladness and joy. Third, it is typically an unplanned response” (pages 6-7).
Situation. Wide range of emotions. Unplanned.
Even though gratitude is a complex emotion, the author describes a common core to it: “...we recognize a circumstance, event or situation (even a trial) as a gift, we have received some unexpected benefit, we respond with words and actions, and we become our best selves in the moment” (page 9).
Next week we’ll take up chapters 3 and 4. If you would like to borrow or buy the book from the church, let Gage know.
This is the first installment of our first online book club. Welcome! With just the prologue to read this week, we’re easing into things. (As always, you can read as much or as little as you care to, and at your own pace.)
As I’ve prepared this study and researched the book, I’ve been referring to the title as simply Grateful. Now I am becoming intrigued with the subtitle: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks. “Subversive”? What could be so subversive about feeling grateful and showing a little gratitude? I’m eager to find out.
The “gratitude structure” that Diana Butler Bass details on pages xxv-xxix begins to give us a few clues. Do you find yourself gravitating to one of the four segments in the chart more than another? Which do you think you might need the most help with?
If you’d like to share thoughts about the structure, or have any other insights or comments you’d like to make, feel free to write them below for the rest of us to engage with. But don’t feel like you have to, either. It’s all good here in the online book club!
Want to join the club but don’t want to buy the book? We have a few copies at church that we can lend out.