The Hebrew word for "gratitude" is a reminder that the positive way is always within reach.
Posted in , Jun 8, 2018
Translating concepts from one language to another often brings ideas to life in new ways. This is especially evident to me when I think about the Hebrew term “hakarat ha’tov,” which is how Hebrew speakers talk about the concept of gratitude.
Literally, hakarat ha’tov means “recognizing the good.” The term is elegant in how it includes the definition of “gratitude" within it.
Gratitude is an act of recognition, after all.
In the course of a given day, we take note of too many people, places and things to count. Reflecting on our mood or outlook, we must choose which of those countless things we want to include in how we might answer the question, “How are you today?”
In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader
It’s neither realistic nor reasonable to expect ourselves to only recognize the positive, to be purely grateful according to the Hebrew definition. In fact, authentic positivity involves honestly acknowledging challenges that arise in life. Failing to do that can actually be detrimental to physical and emotional health.
But gratitude is available to us every day, if we choose to seek out something positive we can recognize and relish. This can be something as simple as noting how a rainy day is giving the garden a good drink, even if the weather inconveniences your outdoor plans. It can mean focusing on the close friends in your life when a colleague makes you feel small. It can mean recognizing the lovely color of your eyes on a day when you’re feeling discouraged about your appearance.
Gratitude is often discussed as a “practice,” something that is most effective when it’s done on a regular basis. A daily gratitude journal is an easy tool for holding yourself accountable to recognizing the good in each day. Having a “gratitude buddy” with whom you share grateful check-ins is another trusty technique.
However you pursue gratitude, know that you are doing something positive for your life. That in itself, is a “good” you can recognize today.