The Wilbur Award-winning book Grateful is now available in paperback and with an updated subtitle.
If gratitude is good, why is it so hard to do? In Grateful, Diana Butler Bass untangles our conflicting understandings of gratitude and sets the table for a renewed practice of giving thanks.
We know that gratitude is good, but many of us find it hard to sustain a meaningful life of gratefulness. Four out of five Americans report feeling gratitude on a regular basis, but those private feelings seem disconnected from larger concerns of our public lives. In Grateful, cultural observer and theologian Diana Butler Bass takes on this “gratitude gap” and offers up surprising, relevant, and powerful insights to practice gratitude.
Bass, author of the award-winning Grounded and ten other books on spirituality and culture, explores the transformative, subversive power of gratitude for our personal lives and in communities. Using her trademark blend of historical research, spiritual insights, and timely cultural observation, she shows how we can overcome this gap and make change in our own lives and in the world.
With honest stories and heartrending examples from history and her own life, Bass reclaims gratitude as a path to greater connection with god, with others, with the world, and even with our own souls. It’s time to embrace a more radical practice of gratitude—the virtue that heals us and helps us thrive.
Bestselling author and scholar Bass (Grounded) takes two seemingly contradictory recent surveys of the mood of Americans as the jumping off point for her excellent call for a more conscientious practice of gratitude. Eight out of 10 Americans feel "a strong sense of gratitude or thankfulness," according to the Pew Research Center. At the same time, the Public Religion Research Institute finds that Americans are "more anxious, less optimistic, and more distrustful" than ever before. Bass asks how both could be true. Her answer focuses on what she calls the "gratitude gap," and she writes that most people feel grateful when "someone does us a favor or when greeted by a beautiful surprise" but also feel a "sense of powerlessness from thinking we will never have enough." To close this gap, Bass asks readers to consider how they express gratitude. She believes that most people have an "imbalance of gratitude" and suggests ways of rethinking how to give thanks in order to find "communal gratefulness." For example, someone who feels gratitude while listening to the national anthem should also think about how to contribute to public service, and someone who feels obligated to send thank-you notes might need to consider actions that would express deeper thanks. Bass's persuasive book will please her longtime fans as well as readers interested in living a more productively thankful life.