Gratefulness makes us happy!

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy,” according to Benedictine monk, author, and lecturer Brother David Steindl-Rast, co-founder and inspiration for

“Miracles happen when gratitude
becomes our primary attitude.”

“Gratefulness can change our world in immensely important ways. If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful. If you’re not fearful, you’re not violent.  Grateful people are joyful people; the more joyful people are, the more we’ll have a joyful world.” 

Miracles happen when gratitude becomes our primary attitude.  If you have not completed your New Year’s Resolutions here are some suggestions.  What we don’t name may remain unknowable. To celebrate this new year and new decade, here are several random thoughts from my “Gratitude Files.” 

FIRST – AN AFFIRMATION: Several years ago, I discovered this message posted on a relative’s refrigerator.  Experiment writing your own statement using similar precise language. Or use stream-of-consciousness writing by choosing a word or phrase to begin writing whatever comes to mind as you record your thoughts as they arise.

From ignorance,
                       Greed is born
From Greed,
          Fear is born
From Fear,
          Mistrust and Violence arise
From Compassion,
          Understanding is born
From Understanding
          Forgiveness is born
From Forgiveness,
          Trust is possible
From Trust,
          Peace is set in motion

SECOND – A WRITING TEMPLATE: The list below describes steps to help you write a Celtic-inspired blessing or prayer.  Give yourself plenty of time to try a variety of different expressions for each of the four steps. Your final product will be a unique message from your heart of any length.  Share it generously and save a copy to reread and feel the goodness you convey to others as well as to yourself.

1st: line:    Bless my…  (name a special thing, person, etc.)

2nd: lines:  Express gratitude for whatever your chosen recipient does for you.

3rd: lines:  Dedicate your blessing for its best use by stating how it helps you go beyond myself. 

4th: line:    Bless my …   (repeat the first line adding any of your continuing thoughts)

Sum up your experience of creating this blessing in a few lines of reflection.  What new and different thoughts come up? What do you notice now? 

THIRD – A GOOD IDEA:  Years ago, my long-time friend and traveling companion Nancy Truluck shared this list of positive “symptoms.”  As I read it, I’m filled with appreciation for her and our many opportunities and adventures enjoyed together over the years.  Add more lines if you like and share it with those who enjoy sly humor.   

Symptoms of Inner Peace
(author unknown)

The tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
A loss of interest in judging other people.
A loss of interest in judging self.
A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
A loss of interest in conflict.
A loss of ability to worry.
Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
Centered feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
Frequent attacks of smiling.
An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extent it. 

Fourth – A POEM: Mary Oliver’s poetry is timeless and grounded in the here-and-now. Her poem, “When Death Comes,” previews her opportunity to explore other realms.

“When Death Comes” Selected lines
By Mary Oliver

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness? …
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

After her long and success-filled life, poet Mary Oliver died just one year ago on January 17, 2019.  Her legacy will surely continue to grow over time.  

May we all experience goodness, generosity and gratitude in the years to come!  Happy New Year!

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