November 26, 2020

Gratitude-Giving

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.
Psalm 107:31
Gratitude means saying thank you, of course. But it is so much more. It can be a consistent attitude that permeates all of existence, transforming the life of the person who practices it. In her book, The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyobomirsky wrote, 

Gratitude is many things to many people. It is wonder; it is appreciation; it is looking at the bright side of a setback; it is fathoming abundance; it is thanking someone in your life; it is thanking God; it is 'counting blessings.' It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is coping; it is present-oriented. Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, avarice, hostility, worry, and irritation.

That gratitude improves the quality of life is not just pie-in-the-sky positive thinking. This is actual science, backed by research. And so today can be a transformative holiday if I cease thinking strictly of Thanks-giving and begin instead to view this as a day of Gratitude-giving—a practice I can repeat throughout the year. 

At many Thanksgiving feasts, families and friends go around the table, each expressing something for which they're thankful. What if I put this custom into practice in my personal life, and dwell at the end of each day on three things for which I am grateful? Though I already do this to a certain extent, I admit I can be much more intentional about it—perhaps even writing it down in a journal.

In this way, I can begin a new year on the fourth Thursday in November, resolving—sort of like those around me do on January 1—to take up a new and healthy practice: Gratitude-giving.

I'll close with a thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things in the Name of him who taught me to pray: Our Father...

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