Gratitude – a side effect of Naikan

Love is rooted in gratitude, its rooted in appreciation, and its rooted in not forgetting all of the things that are done for you by others every single day.        Dawa Tarchin Phillips from the article, Love Grows With Gratitude.

When I read those words yesterday my immediate reaction was YES! It is true. My next response was how perfectly Naikan is designed to help us cultivate noticing all of the ways we are helped every single day.

Take yesterday, as an example. While using the exercise of Daily Naikan I reflected for 15 minutes on  what specifically I had received from others and things in the past 24 hours that had been helpful.


  • The life giving benefit of the research of Dr Dennis Slamon and several other researchers, all unknown to me, who persevered against the odds to create the drug Herceptin that has extended my life.
  • The gift of a comfortable bed to help me rest during the night.
  • The company of my friend Ann during a 45 minute walk.
  • The beauty of thousands of tulips, in a variety of beds, skillfully designed and maintained by the gardeners for the City of Ottawa that I got to admire on my walk.
  • Remembering the annual gift of friendship of 10,000 tulips every year from the Netherlands to Ottawa as a thank you for liberating them in 1945.
  • The beaming smiles of baby Ewan that spontaneously exercised my smiling muscles in return.
  • A delicious vegetable omelet and a perfect cup of coffee from the people at Wild Oats, my neighbourhood coffee shop.
  • Helpful words by Stephen Cope, the author of The Great Work of Your Life, that I read while sipping coffee and waiting for my breakfast.
  • The freedom to sit in the backseat while my son-in-law did the driving during the downpour enroute to my Grandson’s Birthday party at “Clip and Climb.”
  • The gift of a free short performance from Cirque de Soleil – thanks to the Mexican Embassy’s community outreach that I got to watch with my grandchildren.
  • The offer of spots to sit, for my grandchildren, from Natasha who squished her family together so Sophie and Rowan could better see the performance.
  • A call from my 97 year old Mother checking in to see how her 70 year old daughter was doing.
  • The woman whose name I don’t know but whenever I see her on the street, like yesterday, waves a hello and a smile.
  • The dozen volunteers I saw raking and cleaning up a street with smiles on their faces, as part of community clean-up day.
  • The workers from the city who are clearing drains after the rain that caused havoc to the storm drains.


As you might guess, by now, there is no end in sight to the benefits I/we receive thanks to the effort of others, even if we fail to notice. In a general way we all know this but over time we forget; we take our lives for granted and pay more attention to what we are missing, what is going wrong and how others are failing us. Yet, when we stop to consider specifically how we are helped, we are reminded of how fortunate we are and how dependent we are on others every day.

The practice of Naikan adds back colour to what so easily fades into the background. It is such a simple practice in many ways yet offers untold practical benefits.

Gratitude is one of them, as is appreciation and kindness. Side effects worth having.