September 23, 2021 8:15:53 am
Born in Vienna in 1926, David Steindl-Rast is a Benedictine monk and a scholar. Steindl-Rast’s key focus, as you shall watch in the TED video here, is on gratefulness, happiness, and on taking the time to slow down.
In this concise lecture, he tells us that we all want happiness, but the price we have to endure for it is the habit of gratefulness. He explains the difference between grateful experiences and grateful living, and calls to attention the several things we often take for granted.
“We all know people who have lots of misfortunes that we ourselves would not want to have, and they are deeply happy, they radiate happiness,” he says. Why are they like this? “Because they are grateful. It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”
He goes on to say that in order to practice gratefulness, we must comprehend that every moment given to us is a gift and since there is no certainty about having another moment, we should truly seize opportunities.
Steindl-Rast denies the common saying that opportunities knock only once and are fleeting. According to the monk, “every moment is a new gift”. If we miss one opportunity, there will be another lurking around the corner, ready for us.
Holistically, the good monk clarifies that we can certainly not be grateful for negative events such as violence, war, oppression, or exploitation. We cannot be grateful about the loss of a friend, unfaithfulness, and so on. He provides a remedy for these bleak moments as well. “Even when we are confronted by something terribly difficult, we can rise to the occasion and respond to the opportunity given to us.”
He even renders practical advice to us to promote gratefulness in our lives. He gives us an example of how we tend to teach children how to cross a road. We advise them to stop. “We rush through life; we don’t stop, and we miss opportunities because we don’t stop.”
He further narrates his experience returning home after living in a remote part of Africa with scarcity of water and electricity. The monk says that he was overcome with gratefulness when he had returned home and was thankful every time he turned on a faucet or a light.
Being grateful according to Steindl- Rast, can cause a revolution. “Gratefulness can change our world in immensely important ways.” “If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful. If you’re not fearful, you’re not violent” he adds.