I once traveled with a friend who had great insight into human nature. He said, “Wherever you go you can find something to complain about.” If we travel, we can complain about lumpy beds and crowded airports. But if we stay home, we can complain that we never go anywhere interesting and there’s never anything good on television. In Japanese language there is a term -- on. The meaning of on often includes a sense of gratitude combined with a desire to repay others for what we have been given. It’s not just that we feel grateful, or that we express our gratitude, but that we actually experience a sincere desire to give something back. We might think of it as appreciation that stimulates a sense of obligation. Not an externally imposed obligation. But a sense of obligation that arises naturally within us as we recognize how we have been supported and cared for by others.
So how do we go from a complaining life to one which cultivates, and is grounded in, a spirit of on – a spirit of Thanksgiving? A method of Japanese psychology called Naikan gives us insight into the principles help create an authentic life of gratitude and offer us clear and straightforward methods for helping to wake us up to the care, support and gifts that make our own lives possible.