The Gratitude Experiment
Gratitude is one of the most powerful spiritual practices we have. Being grateful, for even one thing, can turn an otherwise rotten day around, or at least make it less rotten.
At our house we used to say simple grace prayers. But they became rote. My wife Mary started something new: having us go around the table and say one thing we are grateful for. We love it, even if we're grumpy, because it lightens the mood at the dinner table, slows us down to appreciate the moment, and directs our attention to God who graciously provides all things.
Many are discovering the benefits of gratitude. I was recently introduced to author John Kralik. He wrote a book, "A Simple Act of Gratitude", that describes how the practice of gratitude impacted his life. Here is the product description from Amazon:
"One recent December, at age 53, John Kralik found his life at a terrible, frightening low: his small law firm was failing; he was struggling through a painful second divorce; he had grown distant from his two older children and was afraid he might lose contact with his young daughter; he was living in a tiny apartment where he froze in the winter and baked in the summer; he was 40 pounds overweight; his girlfriend had just broken up with him; and overall, his dearest life dreams--including hopes of upholding idealistic legal principles and of becoming a judge--seemed to have slipped beyond his reach.
Then, during a desperate walk in the hills on New Year's Day, John was struck by the belief that his life might become at least tolerable if, instead of focusing on what he didn't have, he could find some way to be grateful for what he had. Inspired by a beautiful, simple note his ex-girlfriend had sent to thank him for his Christmas gift, John imagined that he might find a way to feel grateful by writing thank-you notes. To keep himself going, he set himself a goal--come what may--of writing 365 thank-you notes in the coming year.
One by one, day after day, he began to handwrite thank you notes--to loved ones and coworkers, past business associates and current foes, college friends and doctors and store clerks and handymen and neighbors, and anyone, really, absolutely anyone, who'd done him a good turn, however large or small. Immediately after he'd sent his very first notes, significant and surprising benefits began to come John's way--from financial gain to true friendship, from weight loss to inner peace. While John wrote his notes, the economy collapsed, the bank across the street from his office failed, but thank-you note by thank-you note, John's whole life turned around."
What would happen if we all did something similar? What if, every day, we thanked God for one thing? What if, every day, we said one thing to our family members that we appreciated about them? How would that change us? It would be an interesting experiment to run.
May your days be full of gratitude.
See you in church, Pastor Eric