When we choose to recognize gratitude in our world, our perspective changes and the day gets better.
With so many challenges in our daily lives and in the lives of those for whom we provide care, it can be easy to focus too much on negative, pessimistic and unhappy attitudes. When we choose to recognize gratitude in our world, our perspective changes and the day gets better. There are so many days, after finishing work or lying down to sleep, that we may forget to take even a minute to be grateful. For these times, author Terry Fralich, writing in “The Five Core Skills of Mindfulness,” helpfully observes:
“Gratitude, deeply felt, is such a powerful positive energy. It is sometimes said that it is impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. Connecting with gratitude is an effective way to cultivate positive states. As with all other mindfulness practices, we can strengthen our gratitude, and the neural networks that support it, by frequently bringing focused attention to it. Gratitude, even powerful gratitude, does not eliminate the challenges and discomforts that are an inevitable part of the human experience, but it does enable us to maintain a larger perspective about whatever is difficult in our lives. As a result, we are able to hold all the challenges with more balance and peacefulness.”
Gratitude is not just the work of the heart — it is also the work of the brain. As we practice intentional gratitude, we keep our neural networks “in shape.” We can breathe easier and deeper when we recognize the good in the world, the day, our work, in others and in ourselves. We can relax into the day knowing that gratitude gives balance to our thoughts and actions. Even if we are bombarded by stressful events at work and home, we can quickly access appreciation, savor a moment or express thankfulness.
At least once a day, take a moment to think of three good things. Some days, practice this technique multiple times. Identify very simple things in your day to be thankful for, such as:
- A hot shower in the morning
- Having lunch with a friend or colleague
- Snuggling with a pet
- A cup of coffee or tea
- Meeting someone during the day who enriches your life
“No matter what the situation is … close your eyes and think of all the things you could be grateful for in your life right now.” – Deepak Chopra
Send questions or comments about this devotion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
– The Rev. Phillip Garrett, M.Div., Chaplain, Norton Hospital and Norton Children’s Hospital