As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m reminded once again of the benefits to each of us of integrating a gratitude practice into our lives. Allowing ourselves to fully experience a sense of gratitude on a daily basis has proven to be highly beneficial to our minds, bodies, and souls (for more details about how this is so you might want to read, “Giving Thanks: The Effects of Joy and Gratitude on the Human Body” .)
Episcopal priest and author, Matthew Fox declares that gratitude is at the heart of his spirituality. Roman Catholic theologian, David Steindl-Rast, advices that gratitude is the source of our happiness, and Greek Philosopher, Epictetus, maintains that gratitude is a characteristic of wisdom. My own experience supports the assertions of these grateful sages.
When I practice gratitude on a daily basis I not only feel better, I believe that I become a better person. I’m more generous, appreciative, peaceful, and more easily open to wonder and awe. When my practice slips away, it’s not long before I notice the difference. I’m much more likely to be vulnerable to envy, discontentment, and anxiety. I worry more and sleep less; hoard more and give less; work more and celebrate less.
Melodie Beattie observed, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” My life is fuller when I practice gratitude, it makes more sense, and it offers so many more gifts as my heart opens wider to them.