In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
This month's great family feast of Thanksgiving in the United States is a wonderful opportunity to recognize God's abundant blessings and express the gratitude we have stored up over the past year. But as St. Paul says, God desires that our thanksgiving be more than an occasional disposition; it is to be an integral expression of our spiritual lives. Yet in the midst of the dis-ease within the global world and our personal world, many of us are inclined to say, “How can I practice gratitude? My life is a mess; I have nothing to be grateful for.”
In A Simple Act of Gratitude, John Kralik considered his personal ground-zero state to be hopelessly irreversible. He was broke and broken, his law firm failing, his marriage dissolving in bitter divorce, his relationship with his sons severely ruptured. Then, inspired by a note he received thanking him for a gift, John started writing daily thank-you notes to help him be grateful for what he had. Within a year, his finances and friendships dramatically turned around, and soon he was appointed a Superior Court judge.
Taking gratitude practice a step further, in a 2013 TED talk, Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast underscored his belief that it is not experiences of blessing or joy that make us grateful, but rather gratefulness that makes us joyful. He added that practicing gratefulness allows us to see each given moment as a gift, as an opportunity to be wrapped in gratitude — especially as we come to know the Giver of gifts.
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