A Father’s Day Thank You: Love Lives in the Specifics
by Aaron Orendorff
Fourteen years ago, I read an article in The Sun Magazine about gratitude, diapers, and where love lives. The article was entitled “Many Thanks: Gregg Krech on the Revolutionary Practice of Gratitude.”
Krech and his wife, Linda, are the “founders and operators of the ToDo Institute, a nonprofit center in Monkton, Vermont, that offers educational programs on Japanese psychology”; namely “a form of self-reflection called Naikan (pronounced ‘Nye-con’), which translates as ‘inside looking.’” Both Buddhists, the couple specialized in trauma treatment as well as more mundane therapeutic dilemmas through two practices: gratitude and self-examination.
As Gregg explained:
“It’s common for someone in counseling to blame other people — parents, spouses, exes — for the way he or she is. Little time is given to developing a sense of appreciation for what other people have done for you.
And it’s the uncommon shape that appreciation takes that struck me most: diapers.”
Probing Krech on Naikan’s systematic approach to reflection, which usually starts with the patient’s parents, the interviewer asked:
“I’ve heard that a common assignment given to participants … is to calculate the number of diapers their parents changed for them when they were a baby. This seems a little silly. Isn’t it enough just to acknowledge that your parents changed a lot of diapers?”
“I can’t say my mother changed ‘a lot’ of dirty diapers for the same reason my bank statement doesn’t say I wrote “a lot” of checks, and the deed to my property doesn’t say I have “a lot” of acreage. Truth is in the details.”