I’m generally good at being polite, and when I think about it, being grateful as well. I’m certainly thankful for family, friends, good health, and my home. But some time ago I heard about Naikan Reflection, and remembered that it offered a somewhat different approach to thinking about gratitude.
In looking for a definition of naikan, I found the todoinstitute.org. The site explains that a Japanese Buddhist, Yoshimoto Ishin, developed a meditation method he felt would be accessible, and named it Naikan, a Japanese word for introspection. While any meditation practice requires understanding that I don’t presume to represent here, I found Naikan’s suggested reflection questions useful:
What did I receive from others today?
What did I give to others today?
What troubles and difficulties did I cause today?
It doesn’t take much time before sleep to ask myself these questions. When I really think about the details of my day, I find I have always been given courtesies and considerations that didn’t get my full attention, and had pleasurable moments I didn’t fully savor. Am I thoughtful and generous to others? Maybe not so much. Did I cause harm or hurt feelings? I hope not, but perhaps I was distracted, inattentive, careless in a response. You get it.
I am usually aware of and thankful for big things; paying attention to smaller ones broadens my gratitude scope. This Thanksgiving week and beyond, I’m going to try to think small.