Wednesday, November 23, 2016

On Gratitude: Dear Kittens #15

(I write my daughters aka "kittens" a short letter each week under the pseudonym "TOC"="The Old Cat". We've always had cats so this rubric works for us. My daughters are both in high school. I try to distill the wisdom gained through my 47 years that I wish I'd have learned when I was a teen.)

 Dear Kittens,

“Gratitude not attitude.” You may remember this phrase. I used it to remind you to say, “Thank you.” As I’ve gotten older, I now realize that gratitude is not important it is indispensable.

Embracing gratitude has helped to transform my life and taught me to find joy even in the most difficult moments. Learning to say “Thank you” every day empowers us to discover happiness and peace in all circumstances.

Ponder some of my favorite quotations about gratitude. The medieval German mystic Meister Eckhart wrote, “If the only prayer you said was ‘thank you,’ that would be enough.”
 The contemporary mystic and spiritual teacher Ekhart Tolle wrote, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

The 20th century monk and theologian Thomas Merton wrote, “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”

All of these quotations capture the deep magic of saying, “Thank you.” Gratitude turns our attention outward. When we express gratitude, we shift our thoughts away from our selves, our needs, our concerns, our complaints, and our worries. Gratitude releases us to focus for a few moments on the good in our lives. Gratitude enables us to reset our thoughts on the abundance in our world rather than the challenges. There is always something for which to be thankful. Even on days when it seems as though the world is crashing in on us, we can still express gratitude for each breath that we take and for each beating of our heart.

Gratitude is the pathway to the door leading to the life of God’s dreams. Gratitude is critical for receiving each day as the gift that it is. When we say, “Thank you,” we are able to receive God’s gifts for us. To live out of gratitude enables each day to be a surprise. Instead of living out of entitlement or demand, we experience the good things in our lives as a gift.

Gratitude opens us up to living in the present moment. When we are grateful, we are content. Contentment allows us to be free from both past and future. We don’t have to feel cheated about events in the past. Nor do we have to worry about the details of tomorrow. We simply experience the new day as a gift and receive it with thanksgiving.

 Kittens, let me share two of my daily practices with you. I encourage you to try them. First, most mornings I prepare for the new day by praying and meditating. As soon as I finish, I write down five people or things for which I am thankful. I keep these lists in my journal. I try not to repeat myself, but I must admit that I often write that I’m thankful for my kittens! Second, before I fall asleep, I reflect on as many things from the day for which I’m thankful. This resets the mind and helps me to sleep better.

Embrace gratitude, Kittens. It will reset your life for the good.

Grateful for the chance to write you these notes each week,

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