THE BLOG
11/23/2011 11:12 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2012

Finding Those Times to Feel Thankful

"The last few weeks have been especially hectic," I told my older son recently, when we had our regular phone conversation to bridge the distance between West Coast and East. "Do I say that every week," I wondered. He, too, is increasingly busy, as are so many of the people around us. When do we take the time to stop and think? During this period of economic frustration and limited political horizons, when do we allow ourselves to feel gratitude for what we do have? For example, I am so grateful for those conversations with my son, and for knowing that he is having similar conversations with my mother. I am so grateful for my family, across the generations.

Sometimes feelings of gratitude are bound up with feelings of vulnerability. When we realize how fragile life can be, we can be more open to experience that spirit of thankfulness. This season my family has faced some health challenges, and as we've gotten through them, I realize more than ever how lucky I am to have a caring, resourceful and loving family.

Sometimes feelings of gratitude are bound up with feelings of accomplishment. As we work hard on things that matter to us, we can be more open to experience a sense of gratitude and belonging. I work side by side with a very talented team, and I work on a campus infused with the energy of faculty, staff and students. I recognize how fortunate I am to work among people who aim to make a positive difference in the world.

Sometimes feelings of gratitude are bound up with feelings of hopefulness. When we realize how lucky we are to have family and friends who care for us, when we recognize how fortunate we are to be able to accomplish significant goals through cooperative work, we can be more open to feelings of hope for a meaningful future.

As we find the times to be thankful (especially in these tough periods), may our gratitude for present blessings be bound up with a sense of caring purpose.