Here in my warm house today I’m looking out at our second winter snowstorm in South Carolina this month. I’m grateful for living in a cozy, warm house – having good food – having others to love and who love me.
Seventeenth century Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza said that what we put our attention on expands our lives. He recommended keeping a journal for a month. Everyday, ask yourself:
- Who or what inspired me today?
- What brought me happiness today?
- What brought me comfort and deep peace today?
Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude, says that gratitude is “an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received…We acknowledge that other people… gave us many gifts, big and small…It requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people,” thereby strengthening our relationships.
Deepak Chopra says: “Gratitude is a fullness of heart that moves you from limitation and fear to expansion and love. When you’re appreciating something, your ego moves out of the way. You can’t have your attention on ego and gratitude at the same time.”
Blogger Celia Alario discovered her new year’s “fitness regime” saying, “I want to have a solid daily chunk of at least five minutes of what I am calling ‘extreme awe’… an experience of uninterrupted appreciation for and marveling in what is going on around me, one where I don’t cut short my experience of wonder that is warranted everywhere I look.” She calls this her five-minute marvel session.
William Blake said, “Gratitude is heaven itself,” and Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk in the tradition of Thomas Merton, said, “it is not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.”
Perhaps before you go to bed tonight, you might jot down five or six things that you are grateful for today. Try it for a week and see what happens. Try for a month to remember to be thankful every day.