The Spiritual Practice of Gratitude

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I have a friend who said recently something to the effect of “I’m pretty sure one of the only things we need to know to live a spiritual life is how to be thankful.” She’s right, I think. So much flows from gratitude: kindness, respect, love. If we start, first with gratitude, many other things will follow in our lives. About a year ago, Elias and I began a gratitude practice for Sunday nights. Every Sunday night we each make a list of five reasons we are grateful. Usually the reasons are tied to the week we just completed, but not always. The idea came from a New York Times article that came out a couple of years ago that talked about the scientific benefits of leading a life of gratitude.

This week I read another fantastic article in Relevant Magazine about living a life of gratitude called Putting Thankfulness into Practice. In it there are a variety of great suggestions for practicing gratitude. The one that resonated with me most was the one that said Anchor your thankfulness to something besides circumstance. When our ability to be thankful is not tied to whether or not we’re having a good day, or whether the sun is shining, or whether things are going our way and when we’re able to give thanks in all circumstances (as the apostle Paul says) then we have  discovered something special.

I think practicing gratitude is a discipline like any other. The more it’s practiced, the easier it becomes. It’s not easy all the time, but the rewards are great. Happy Thanksgiving day to all of you. May it be a day to commit to a practice of gratitude that lasts the whole year through.

For further Reading:

A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day 

Putting Thankfulness Into Practice