- He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. [Epictetus]
- We do not see that our life right here, right now, is nirvana. [Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice (Shambhala, 2001), p. 4.]
Gratitude is the linchpin of being happy that places the emphases on “being.”
- Margaret Visser, The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009).
- Cleo Hicks Williams, Gratitude for Shoes: Growing Up Poor in the Smokies (iUniverse, Inc., 2005).
- Todd Aaron Jensen, On Gratitude: Sheryl Crow, Jeff Bridges, Alicia Keys, Daryl Hall, Ray Bradbury, Anna Kendrick, B.B. King, Elmore Leonard, Deepak Chopra, and 42 More Celebrities Share What They're Most Thankful For (Adams Media, 2010).
- Walter Green, This Is the Moment!: How One Man's Yearlong Journey Captured the Power of Extraordinary Gratitude (Hay House, 2010).
Gratefulness for life:
- Harold S. Kushner, To Life!: A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking (Little, Brown & Company, 1993).
Celebrating biodiversity is a way to be thankful but, perhaps more important in an era in which species are vanishing at an alarming rate, a reminder of howmuchwe have to lose.
- Colin Tudge, The Variety of Life: A Survey and Celebration of All the Creatures That Have Ever Lived (Oxford University Press, 2000).
- E. O. Wilson, ed., Biodiversity (National Academy of Sciences, 1996).
- Marjorie L. Reaka-Kudla, Don E. Wilson and Edward O. Wilson, eds., Biodiversity II: Understanding and Protecting Our Biological Resources (Joseph Henry Press, 1996).
- Edward O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life (Belknap Press, 1992).
- Alisdair McIntyre, ed., Life in the World's Oceans: Diversity, Distribution and Abundance (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
- Gene Helfman, Bruce B. Collett, Douglas E. Facey and Brian W. Bowen, The Diversity of Fishes: Biology, Evolution, and Ecology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).
- Robert G. Foottit and Peter H. Adler, eds., Insect Biodiversity: Science and Society (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).
- David T. Harksworth and Alan T. Bull, eds., Arthropod Diversity and Conservation (Springer, 2006).
- David T. Harksworth and Alan T. Bull, eds., Vertebrate Conservation and Biodiversity (Springer, 2007).
- David T. Harksworth and Alan T. Bull, eds., Forest Diversity and Management (Springer, 2006).
- Peter S. Ungar, Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Destiny (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010).
- Dean Falk, Primate Diversity (W.W. Norton & Co., 2000).
- Ian Redmond, The Primate Family Tree: The Amazing Diversity of Our Closest Relatives (Firefly Books, 2008).
- Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Biodiversity (Clarion Books, 1996).
- Jonathan Slaight, Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020): “Slaght’s hope, and the premise of his engaging tale, is that uncovering the secrets of this mysterious raptor will help win it protection. In conservation, saving one species often means saving many.”
- Rebecca Giggs, Fathoms: The World in the Whale (Simon & Schuster, 2020): ”Spurred by her encounter with the doomed humpback, she questions the conventional wisdom that all is well with whales now that conservation campaigns have helped their populations rebound over the last few decades.”
Every art celebrates life. For me, no art expresses the idea better than the quiet but joyful art of quilting.
- Martha Sielman, Masters: Art Quilts: Major Works by Leading Artists (Lark Books, 2008).
- Mary Lou Weidmann, Quilted Memories: Celebrations of Life (C & T Publishing, 2001).
- Jenny Carr Kinney, Quilting Designs from the Past: 300+ Designs from 1810-1940 (C & T Publishing, 2009).
Gratefulness for bounty:
The culinary arts celebrate abundance. Great cookbooks are listed on the sites for the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the James Beard Foundation. I have chosen one or two award-winning cookbooks to represent each culinary tradition but you can search these and other sites, where you will find the rich narratives of culinary art and history, and many schools of thought within each broadly defined tradition.
- France: Auguste Escoffier, Escoffier: The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery (Wiley, 1983).
- France: André Soltner, The Lutece Cookbook (Knopf, 1995).
- Italy: Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Knopf, 1992).
- Spain: Penelope Casas, The Foods and Wines of Spain (Knopf, 1982).
- China: Gloria Bley Miller, The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook (Value Proprietary, 1997).
- Sichuan: Fuschia Dunlop, Land of Plenty: A Treasure of Authentic Sichuan Cooking (W.W. Norton & Company, 2003).
- Cantonese: Grace Young, The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen: Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing (Simon & Schuster, 1999).
- Outer China: Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China (Artisan, 2008).
- Japan: Shuzio Tsuji, Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art (Kodansha International, 2007).
- India: Madhur Jaffrey, An Invitation to Indian Cooking (Ecco, 1999).
- Indian vegetarian: Yamuni Devi, Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking (Dutton, 1987).
- United States: James Beard, American Cookery (Little, Brown and Company, 2010).
- Cajun: Donald Link and Paula Disbrowe, Real Cajun: Rustic Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana (Clarkson Potter, 2009).
- Southern: Matt Lee and Ted Lee, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners (W.W. Norton & Company, 2006).
- Native American: Martin Jacobs and Beverly Cox, Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking (Stewart Tabori and Chang, 1991).
- Greece: Aglaia Kremezi, The Foods of Greece (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1993).
- Turkey: Ayla E. Algar, Classical Turkish Cooking: Traditional Turkish Food for the American Kitchen (William Morrow Cookbooks, 1991).
- Middle East: Claudia Roden, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food (Knopf, 2000).
- Persia: Najmiah Batmangliej, New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies (Mage Publishers, 1992).
- South America: Maria Baez Kijac, The South American Table: The Flavor and Soul of Authentic Home Cooking from Patagonia to Rio de Janiero (Harvard Common Press, 2003).
- Mexico: Rick Bayless, Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine (Scribner, 1996).
- Thailand: Jennifer Brennan, The Original Thai Cookbook (Putnam Pub. Group, 1981).
- Korea: Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, Eating Korean: From Barbecue to Korean, Recipes from My Home (Wiley, 2005).
- Viet Nam: Mai Pham, Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (William Morrow Cookbooks, 2001).
- Scandinavia: Andreas Viestad, Kitchen of Light: The New Scandinavian Cooking (Artisan, 2003).
- Africa: Marcus Samuelsson, The Soul of New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa (Wiley, 2006).
- Northern Africa: Paula Wolfert, Couscous and Other Good Foods from Morocco (Ten Speed Press, 1973).
- Russia: Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman, Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook (Workman Pub. Co., 1990).
- Poland: Michael J. Baruch, The New Polish Cuisine (Lbcm Publishing, 2007).
- Israel: Joan Nathan, The Foods of Israel Today (Knopf, 2001).
- Germany: Mimi Sheraton, The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking (Random House, 1965).
- Austria: David Bouley, East of Paris: The New Cuisines of Austria and the Danube (Ecco, 2003).
- Central America: Copeland Marks, False Tongues and Sunday Bread: A Guatemalan and Mayan Cookbook (M. Evans, 1985).
- Ethiopia: Daniel J. Mesfin, Exotic Ethiopian Cooking: Society, Culture, Hospitality, and Traditions (Ethiopian Cookbook Enterprises, 1994).
- Indonesia: James Oseland, Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singpore, and Malaysia (W.W. Norton & Co., 2006).
- Polynesia: Sam Choy, Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen (Hyperion, 2002).
- Ireland: Colman Andrews, The Country Cooking of Ireland (Chronicle Books, 2009).
- Britain: Matthew Forte, Paul Heathcote's Rhubarb and Black Pudding (4th Estate, 1999).
And of course, there are subcategories of the culinary arts that are not best represented by a geographical or ethnic region.
- Vegetarian: Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Clarkson Potter, 2007).
- Grilling: Jamie Purviance and Sandra S. McRae, Weber's Big Book of Grilling (Chronicle Books, 2001).
- Baking: James Peterson, Baking (Ten Speed Press, 2009).
- Roasting: Barbara Kafka, Roasting: A Simple Art (William Morrow & Co., 1995).
- Soups: James Peterson, Splendid Soups: Recipes and Master Techniques for Making the World's Best Soups (Wiley, 2000).
- Breads: Peter Reinhart, The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread (Ten Speed Press, 2001).
- Desserts: Maida Heatter, Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts (Andrews McNeel Publishing, 1999).
- Pastry: Bo Friberg, The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry (Wiley, 2002).
- Cake: Rose Levy Berenbaum, The Cake Bible (William Morrow, 1988).
- Chocolate: Dorie Greenspan, Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé (Little, Brown & Company, 2001)
- The culinary arts: Prosper Montagne, Larousse Gastronomique (Clarkson Potter, 2001).
- Basic cooking: Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything (Wiley, 2008).
- And for a drink: The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails (Oxford University Press, 2021).
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Robert Emmons, Thanks!: How Praciticing Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Mariner Books, 2008).
- Robert Emmons, Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Mariner Books, 2007).
- Robert Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford University Press, 2004).
- Robert Emmons and Joanna Hill, Words of Gratitiude for Mind, Body, and Soul (Templeton Foundation Press, 2001).
- M.J. Ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life (Conari Press, 2009).
- Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons, Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude (Viva Editions, 2009).
- A.M. Wood, J.J. Froh and A.W. Geraghty, "Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration", Clinical Psychology Review, 2010 Mar. 20.
- A.M. Wood, S. Joseph, J. Lloyd and S. Atkins, "Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions," Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2009 Jan;66(1):43-8.
- R.A. Emmons and M.E. McCullough, "Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2003 Feb;84(2):377-89.
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68, "Pastoral Symphony, or Recollections of Country Life” (1808), presents musical images of peasants spending a joyous day in the country. The Pastorale “offers eloquent testimony to the importance and power of nature in Beethoven's life. The composer reveled in walking in the environs of Vienna and spent nearly every summer in the country.” In it, “we have caught a glimpse of Beethoven’s state of mind, or at least one facet of the complicated prism of his being.” “Beethoven’s notion of the heroic in Symphony No. 6 is a figure at one with and in Nature, variously resting in its bosom, celebrating its bounty, fearful of its sublime might, and in the end, expressing thanks to its Creator for all of these states. Beethoven’s own words expressed that his desire is to have the listener feel the journey, not just see series of images. Thus, the heroic object of this particular symphonic journey is the subject—the careful listener experiencing the piece.” By happy circumstance, this day on our liturgical calendar usually coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. I can think of no better music to express the spirit and experience of being with loved ones on a day devoted to gratefulness. Top performances were conducted by Toscanini in 1937, Erich Kleiber in 1953, Karajan in 1953, Klemperer in 1957, Böhm in 1971, Carlos Kleiber in 1973, Harnoncourt in 1991, Järvi in 2009, Antonini in 2010, Rudin in 2010 and Savall in 2021.
- First movement, Allegro ma non troppo: “Awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrival in the country”
- Second movement, Andante molto mosso: “Scene at the brook”
- Third movement, Allegro: “Happy gathering of country folk”
- Fourth movement, Allegro: “Thunderstorm”
- Fifth movement, Allegretto: “Shepherds’ song: cheerful and thankful feelings after the storm” (Listen especially to the interplay between the female (violins) and male (cellos) voices.)
Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 26 in D Major, K. 537, “Coronation” (1788) (approx. 29-35’), sounds like someone in great health and grateful for it. Each of the three movements – Allegro - Cadenza, Larghetto and Allegretto - exudes Mozart's characteristic playfulness. Apparently, Mozart did not title it “Coronation”. Top recorded performances on disc are by Gulda (Collins) in 1955, Richter (Kertész) in 1961, Curzon (Boulez) in 1974, Perahia in 1983, Uchida (Tate) in 1987, Pires (Abbado) in 1993, Buchbinder in 2004, Piemontesi (Manze) in 2017.
Glazunov, Symphony No. 8 in E flat Major, Op. 83 (1906): the four movements cover abundance (first movement, Allegro moderato), tragic pathos (second movement, Mesto), constant movement (third movement, Allegro) and resolution (fourth movement, Finale).
- Lauridsen: Nocturnes (four nocturnes)
- Monteverdi: Mass of Thanksgiving (1631)
- Tavener: Akathist of Thanksgiving
- Ridout, George III, His Lament (1975)
- Händel, The Dettingen Te Deum, HWV 283
- Händel, The Dettingen Anthem, HWV 283
- Susanna Andersson & Little Venice Ensemble, “A Summer’s Day”
- René Magritte, Beautiful World (1962)
- Jacob Jordaens, Allegory of Fertility (c. 1622)
Gratefulness for belonging:
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir, In the Garden (1875)
Gratefulness for life:
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Woman with a Cat (1875)
Gratefulness for bounty:
- Frida Kahlo, Fruits of the Earth (1938)
- Diego Rivera, The Abundant Earth (1926)
- Gustav Klimt, Park (1909-10)
- Edward Coley Burne-Jones, The Garden of the Hesperides (1870-73)
- Jacob Jordaens, The Bean King (c. 1638)
- Peter Bruegel the Elder, The Wine of St. Martin's Day (ca. 1565-68)
Gratefulness for health:
- Alessandro Botticelli, Primavera (1482)
Gratefulness for relationships:
- Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Cradle of the Happy Family
- Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Happy Family (1769)
Music: songs and other short pieces
For intimate relationships:
- Simon & Garfunkel, For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her
- Paul Simon, “Something So Right”
For the natural world:
- Nawang Khechog, Thanksgiving to Mother Earth
- Nawang Khechog, Under the Wings of Blessing
- Franz Schubert (composer), An die Natur (To Nature), D. 372 (1815) (lyrics)
- Franz Schubert (composer), Abendlied (Evening Song), D. 382 (1816) (lyrics)
- Franz Schubert (composer), Erntelied (Harvest Song), D. 434 (1816) (lyrics)
From the dark side:
- Frank Kimbrough, “It Should Have Happened a Long Time Ago” (regret)
Film and Stage
- The Best Years of Our Lives, portraying lives of soldiers who had returned from World War II
- It’s a Wonderful Life: a man figures it out
- The Pride of the Yankees, a dramatized film biography about baseball player Lou Gehrig, who lived and died with grace
I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. / I loafe and invite my soul, / I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. / My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air, / Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, / I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, / Hoping to cease not till death. / Creeds and schools in abeyance, / Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, / I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, / Nature without check with original energy.
[Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1891-92), Book III: Song of Myself, 1.]
At length their long kiss severed, with sweet smart:
And as the last slow sudden drops are shed
From sparkling eaves when all the storm has fled,
So singly flagged the pulses of each heart.
Their bosoms sundered, with the opening start
Of married flowers to either side outspread
From the knit stem; yet still their mouths, burnt red,
Fawned on each other where they lay apart.
Sleep sank them lower than the tide of dreams,
And their dreams watched them sink, and slid away.
Slowly their souls swam up again, through gleams
Of watered light and dull drowned waifs of day;
Till from some wonder of new woods and streams
He woke, and wondered more: for there she lay.
[Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Nuptial Sleep”]
Hugo ends the volume on Cosette with a comment of Valjean’s gratefulness. Hiding with Cosette in a convent, he reflects on two pivotal times in his life:
Everything that surrounded him, that peaceful garden, those fragrant flowers, those children who uttered joyous cries, those grave and simple women, that silent cloister, slowly permeated him, and little by little, his soul became compounded of silence like the cloister, of perfume like the flowers, of simplicity like the women, of joy like the children. And then he reflected that these had been two houses of God which had received him in succession at two critical moments in his life: the first, when all doors were closed and when human society rejected him; the second, at a moment when human society had again set out in pursuit of him, and when the galleys were again yawning; and that, had it not been for the first, he should have relapsed into crime, and had it not been for the second, into torment. His whole heart melted in gratitude, and he loved more and more. Many years passed in this manner; Cosette was growing up. [Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862), Volume II – Cosette; Book Eighth – Cemeteries Take That Which Is Committed Them, Chapter IX, Cloistered.]
After learning that Valjean had saved him from death, Marius expresses his thanks:
Cosette, do you hear? he has come to that! he asks my forgiveness! And do you know what he has done for me, Cosette? He has saved my life. He has done more--he has given you to me. And after having saved me, and after having given you to me, Cosette, what has he done with himself? He has sacrificed himself. Behold the man. And he says to me the ingrate, to me the forgetful, to me the pitiless, to me the guilty one: Thanks! Cosette, my whole life passed at the feet of this man would be too little. That barricade, that sewer, that furnace, that cesspool,--all that he traversed for me, for thee, Cosette! He carried me away through all the deaths which he put aside before me, and accepted for himself. Every courage, every virtue, every heroism, every sanctity he possesses! Cosette, that man is an angel!" [Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862), Volume V – Jean Valjean; Book Ninth – Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn, Chapter V, A Night Beyond Which There Is Day.]
. . . there was one human creature whom Quasimodo excepted from his malice and from his hatred for others, and whom he loved even more, perhaps, than his cathedral: this was Claude Frollo.
The matter was simple; Claude Frollo had taken him in, had adopted him, had nourished him, had reared him. When a little lad, it was between Claude Frollo’s legs that he was accustomed to seek refuge, when the dogs and the children barked after him. Claude Frollo had taught him to talk, to read, to write. Claude Frollo had finally made him the bellringer. Now, to give the big bell in marriage to Quasimodo was to give Juliet to Romeo. [Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris, or, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831), Volume I, Book Fourth, Chapter IV, “The Dog and His Master”.]
“Well!” she interposed with a smile, “tell me why you saved me.”
He watched her attentively while she was speaking.
“I understand,” he replied. “You ask me why I saved you. You have forgotten a wretch who tried to abduct you one night, a wretch to whom you rendered succor on the following day on their infamous pillory. A drop of water and a little pity,—that is more than I can repay with my life. You have forgotten that wretch; but he remembers it.”
She listened to him with profound tenderness. A tear swam in the eye of the bellringer, but did not fall. He seemed to make it a sort of point of honor to retain it. [Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris, or, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) Volume II, Book Ninth, Chapter III, “Deaf”.]
- Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Good Company: A Novel (Ecco, 2021): “The constant internal struggle between what the heart wants versus what it should be grateful it already has serves as the primary emotional engine . . .”