Do you feel grateful at mealtimes or do you begrudge them?
As you might have heard, humans need to consume a certain amount of nutritious matter (known as ‘food’) per day to stay alive and be healthy. Most of us break this process into several stages throughout the day, e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner, and supper. Mealtimes are an excellent target for our gratitude because they are so repetitive and because they are so fundamental to our existence. Moreover, practising gratitude about one thing is practising gratitude, period – over time, the seed of gratitude will germinate and ramify into the rest of our lives.
It is common for a religion to have some practice of mealtime gratitude, appreciation, or mindfulness. However, it doesn’t need to be a religious practice. For example, you don’t need to thank a deity to express gratitude for your food.
Background and Motivation
What is this Gratitude?
By gratitude here, I mean:
- Looking for the positives in the situation rather than dwelling on the negatives, including reframing negative judgments as neutral or positive judgments.
- Bringing yourself back to the present moment and being aware of what you are doing rather than mentally wandering around somewhere else.
- Recognising that everything in this world is impermanent, hence you won’t have what you have forever.
- Feeling grateful.
Why Should I Be Grateful?
Well, you don’t have to be grateful, but practising gratitude is one of the most effective ways to enhance life. I say ‘practice’ because being grateful is a habit, and all habits are formed by practice.
Gratitude allows us to:
- Enjoy what we have more.
- Complain less. Complaining can ruin our lives, dragging down others with us.
- Be satisfied more easily. If we don’t appreciate what we have, we are likely to seek greater and greater external sources of satisfaction, leading to insatiable desire. Insatiable desire is otherwise known as greed.
- Be more aware of those who don’t have what we have.
- Be more grounded in the real world. Being grateful requires thinking through what we are doing and how that came to be, as opposed to acting thoughtlessly.