The Gift of Today—Lessons from a Monk

I originally published this post last Thanksgiving. It has such a powerful, simple video that I wanted to share it with you again today. I pray it inspires you to focus on the things that matter most. Have a blessed holiday.

The older I get, the more I believe that gratitude is the answer to almost every problem we face. It can transform anxiety, anger, and depression.

It may not change our circumstances—though it often does—but it can change us. And isn’t that really the purpose of this journey we call “life”?

My daughter Marissa recently shared a video with me that I want to share with you. It is as beautiful as it is profound. It is well-worth your time to watch it.

I particularly loved this quote from Brother David Steindl-Rast, a benedictine monk, and the one speaking on the video:

You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today…. It’s the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.

Maybe we would get this if we saw today as the first day of our life—or our last.

Here are four ways you can transform today, taking it from ordinary to extraordinary:

  1. Notice the gifts around you. Whether it is the natural beauty that surrounds you, the interesting people you encounter, or the simple beating of your heart, everything is a miracle—if you have eyes to see it.
  2. Open your heart to receive them. It’s so easy to feel entitled and become cynical when we don’t get what we want or feel we deserve. But if we receive everything as a gift, designed for either our enjoyment, our transformation, or both, we open ourselves to new possibilities.
  3. Express your gratitude for them. This is one of the things that makes humans unique and sets us apart from the animals. But we have to speak it to experience the power of it.
  4. Bless someone else. Let your gratefulness overflow into the lives of those you encounter today. It doesn’t have to be fancy—just offer them a smile, a touch, or the simple gift of your presence. (You could also share this post with them!)

Today will never be repeated. It it is unique among all the days of your life. Gratitude can transform into something to be remembered.

Note: If you want to explore gratitude further, read Ann Voskamp’s excellent book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

Question: What are you thankful for on this Thanksgiving holiday? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Richard G OBrien

    Thank you Michael for reposting this video and reminding us how special everyday is. Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving and thank you for the leadership and inspiration you provide all year round. Your blog and Podcast is something I have to be thankful for this year!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Richard. I appreciate your kind words.

  • catherinetatum

    I agree gratitude is the response we need to have and to share. Thank you for sharing this beautiful video!

  • Lawrence McMahon

    How meaningful it would be if on our first day we are all appropriately in “Awe” and on our last day, we “Reflect.”

  • Skip Prichard

    Today number 2 spoke to me: open your heart. So many people are not open to the blessings all around them, making the abundance useless. Thank you for sharing this extraordinary message.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You’re welcome, Skip. I hope you and Anita have an extraordinary day!

  • Moronmubo Olayide

    It’s amazing how we take God and a lot of other things around us for granted. Divine or good Health, someplace to go everyday that pays your bills, a good night sleep, the simple act of breathing in and out or been able to feed yourself unaided, ummm. Opportunity to learn everyday, for an encounter with you and your wife. God has been good to me. I am truly grateful. hey if I have a thousand tongue…

  • Brett Kessler

    Thanks for posting this. Amazing message coupled to amazing visuals – message heard!

  • John Kramp

    Wow! I loved this. Perfect way to end a Thanksgiving celebration. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, John. The video blew me away when I first saw it.

  • Cecelia Lester (Quiet Spirit)

    I am thankful for my salvation and the peace Jesus has given me. I am thankful for the gift of laughter. There was an extended period in my life where I couldn’t laugh. I start out most mornings by saying, “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

  • Richard Evans

    I am grateful for many things, but after watching the video, I am grateful to the script writer of Kungfu Panda when he had the turtle sage say … Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery … Thus today is a gift and that is why we call it the present … Unwrap it wisely.

  • Melissa

    I am thankful for a select few who gave me joy during my life. I love and adore both of my boys more than words can ever express. My greatest appreciation now comes from sleep. Deep sleep. If I crave anything in this world right now, it’s the ultimate satisfying sleep.

  • Mark Bowling

    I just finished Tim Sanders’ book Today We Are Rich. It was the perfect book for me leading into Thanksgiving. I am thankful for (1) physical blessings – a roof over my head, more food on my plate than I can sometimes eat, and especially health after going through my wife’s breast cancer battle last year (2) relational blessings – my friends and family (especially my wife) and (3) spiritual blessings – God’s constant grace and forgiveness.

  • monica m ojumu

    i’m usually thankful for the free gift of salvation, family, friends, avenues for expressing one’s talents, abilities, capabilities and making multiple streams of good income.

  • Jennifer Allen

    I am thankful for Brian Holmes, you,John Maxwell and the many other leaders who encourage me (and so many people) to live a life beyond ourselves and to help others do the same! I’m thankful for the past two years which have been filled with lots of opportunities to learn and grow. My eyes have been opened and I don’t want to ever go back to the way I used to live/ think! God bless you!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jennifer. I am honored to be included with those men!

  • Laura Black Caprioni

    Thank you, Michael. It is a beautiful video and message.

  • Dave

    I am grateful to be alive. Thank you for this message!! We have all won the lottery of life!!! The chances of our being here is more then the money lottery!!! We have a chance at life!! We must all enjoy it and feel the love and live our lives to the FULL potential that is there!! Give this message to others by living and loving your life!!!

  • Caro Medina

    The message that i need … thank you so much!!!!

  • David Cook

    Very nice post. I have seen this before and it is so nice to see again. There is a wonderful talk by Brother David Steindl-Rast on, Thank you!!!

  • Kyle Musser

    Love the first one “Notice the gifts around you”. This is powerful message that needs to be remembered every day!