Isthmus 2Today’s Word: ‘8,576’ as in… you don’t have to travel 8,576 miles to learn the difference between gratitude and thanksgiving.

In the next podcast I’ll be digging way down deep into gratitude. To get ready, I’ve been noodling on this question: “Is there a difference between gratitude and thanksgiving?” Yes. It’s subtle, but there is a difference. Come with me.

You and I are hiking the trail to the summit of Isthmus Peak on South Island, New Zealand. It’s one of the most dazzling and amazing experiences we’ve ever had. As the switchbacks carry us into the clear blue sky, we pause often to catch our breath. This isn’t an easy hike. At least one traveler describes it this way: “The hike is approximately 5 miles each way with a leg-obliterating, lung-burning 4000′ of elevation gain.” Yes. I know. But let’s keep going. When we finally arrive at the top, we have two distinct moments. First, looking out over the vast and beautiful expanse of Lake Wanaka to the left and Lake Hawea to the right, we completely lose ourselves in the moment. As the vista spreads out in every direction, it’s as if our eyes can’t fully take it all in. There are no words; thoughts seem to evaporate into thin air. The beauty we’re experiencing is beyond vocabulary. It’s right there, in that one moment, when we close our eyes and take in a big deep breath that it happens. For one timeless moment we’re aware of Something Far Greater than ourselves.

We call that moment Gratitude.

But then, the second moment arrives. From somewhere down deep, and without any rehearsal whatsoever, we express out loud what was nearly impossible just a moment ago: “Thank you! Thank you! Oh, my, thank you!” And then we say it again because these are the only words we have.

We call that moment Thanksgiving.

When we make ourselves available to the mystical, transformational wonder of gratitude, we’re more fully available to express thanksgiving.

And here’s the really good news: we don’t have to travel 8,576 miles to experience either one.


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