Rabbi Salanter once noticed that a fancy restaurant was charging a huge price for a cup of coffee. He approached the owner and asked why the coffee was so expensive. After all, some hot water, a few coffee beans and a spoonful of sugar could not amount to more than a few cents.
The owner replied: "It is correct that for a few cents you could have coffee in your own home. But here in the restaurant, we provide exquisite decor, soft background music, professional waiters, and the finest china to serve your cup of coffee."
Rabbi Salanter's face lit up. "Oh, thank you very much! I now understand the blessing of Shehakol -- 'All was created by His word' -- which we recite before drinking water. You see, until now, when I recited this blessing, I had in mind only that I am thanking the Creator for the water that He created. Now I understand the blessing much better. 'All' includes not merely the water, but also the fresh air that we breathe while drinking the water, the beautiful world around us, the music of the birds that entertain us and exalt our spirits, each with its different voice, the charming flowers with their splendid colors and marvelous hues, the fresh breeze -- for all this we have to thank God when drinking our water!"
We seldom realize how much work goes into making something happen, whether it be a cup of coffee or a plane. Sometimes we just have the disposition that we want it on time and without a hitch.
But what went into the coffee? The plane? Rabbi Salanter is giving us some enhanced insight that it isn't just the bean or the water that makes it so special. All of the love and labor beyond the cup is what we should be grateful for on a daily basis. When we approach our office at work, someone took the time to empty the trash and the recycling. The floors were vacuumed. The dinner was made at home. The groceries were purchased. The person at the intersection yielded. The trash was taken away. The sun came out today.
When we develop a more honed sense of gratitude, nothing is taken for granted. Everything has meaning and is wonderful. When we are aware of the blessings around us, life seems more beautiful and amazing.
As you go through your week, take time to be thankful for every blessing and express it. Don't let a moment go by when you are not expressing your gratitude for the wonders that surround you. Drink them in and express your gratitude to Hashem for all of them, as well as to your fellow.