Our friends at Gratitude Revealed connected with Lynne Twist recently, in between her many projects around the world, and asked her about her relationship to generosity and gratitude. “How is it you continue to feel so hopeful about our global capacity for generosity?” She answered with a story. The story is called, “The Two Branches of Gratitude.”

Lynne asked Brother David, “What is the difference between ‘gratitude’ and ‘gratefulness’?” He proceeded to tell her the story of the tree with two branches. You can hear her tell this story in the video below, or continue to read along…

There are two branches of Gratitude. One is Gratefulness, and the other is Thanksgiving.

The Gratefulness branch is when the Bowl of Life is so full that it’s almost overflowing, but not quite. So full that it’s almost bowed at the top, but not quite dribbling over the edges. And, that is the experience of the Great Fullness of Life.

And when you’re in the Great Fullness of Life, you’re one with God, you’re one with the Universe, there is no “other”. And that is so Full Filling, that the Bowl of Life gives way and to overflow at last, which flows you directly over to the second branch, that of Thanksgiving.

When you’re in the space of Thanksgiving, the Bowl of Life is absolutely overflowing. You’re so grateful that there is an “other” because all you want to do is contribute and serve and share and give and make a difference. And that is so Full Filling, that it puts you right back onto the other branch where you experience the Great Fullness of Life, where you’re one with God and there is no “other”.

And, so you see, you can live your whole life in the two branches of Gratitude…

Click here to see Gratitude Revealed’s short film “Generosity” featuring Lynne Twist.

Br. David Steindl-Rast