Q: How can I be grateful, if I’ve got nothing but trouble? — Jenn

A: This question pushes through to the very core of gratefulness. Let us begin by frankly admitting that we cannot be grateful for injury, disease, injustice, and other troubles. We cannot be grateful for all that a given moment brings us; yet, in any given moment, we can be grateful for something – for the opportunity it brings us. Opportunity for what? Only in that particular moment can you hear an answer to this question that will fit your particular need. And you will hear it, if you keep your ears attuned through gratefulness.

Our troubles create a great deal of noise. In the midst of that din it is not easy to hear the soft voice of opportunity. We need trained ears. This is why we need to train our ears long before trouble breaks in on us.

The gift within the gift of any given moment is opportunity. Most of the time, this is an opportunity to enjoy what that moment brings. Yet how rarely do we fully taste that joy; instead we rush on to the next moment. Training for listening to the opportunity that is the gift within the gift starts in our happy moments. The more we listen, the more we will be able to respond also to the opportunity that a moment of trouble offers us. We may feel that we have got nothing but trouble, but even our worst troubles are jam-packed with opportunity.

— Your Brother David

Br. David Steindl-Rast
Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

About the author

Brother David Steindl-Rast — author, scholar, and Benedictine monk — is beloved the world over for his enduring message about gratefulness as the true source of lasting happiness. Known to many as the “grandfather of gratitude,” Br. David has been a source of inspiration and spiritual friendship to countless leaders and luminaries around the world including Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, and more. He has been one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, and has taught with thought-leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, and Roshi Joan Halifax. His wisdom has been featured in recent interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Krista Tippett, and Tami Simon and his TED talk has been viewed almost 10,000,000 times. Learn more about Br. David here.