One of the underlying themes of the Torah is the importance of developing a sense of gratitude, both to God for all the blessings He has given us, and to anyone who does anything for us.
In fact, the Torah tells us that gratitude is one of the keys to experiencing real joy in life and the means by which we can live our lives to the fullest. That is one of the reasons why the first word that a person is expected to say in the morning is “thank you” — to be grateful for another day of life and to put us in the right frame of mind for the day ahead.
This week’s Torah portion tells us three times that the key to experiencing real joy in life is through gratitude and the cultivation of a good heart (Deut. 26:11, 27:7, 28:47). The essence of a good heart is an intrinsic ability to share with others. In fact, one of the reasons why it “isn’t good for man to be alone” is because you can’t live in God’s presence — or, in fact, in anyone’s presence — if you are unable or unwilling to share, and in order to share, you must have a sense of gratitude and a good heart.
The Talmud teaches us that in physical, mundane matters we should always look at those who have less than us, but in spiritual and moral matters we should always look at those who have more. This will inspire us to be grateful for all our blessings, while at the same time inspire us to become better people and leave our mark on the world.
Interestingly, you will notice that those who really inspire us and who are truly happy usually happen to be those who are grateful for everything they have and who can give graciously of life’s gifts.