By Reverend Kimberly Bowden
Thankfulness or gratitude is a prominent theme in the Bible. This is proof to me that gratitude is an essential part of a fruitful and productive life. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, it states “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Many people skim over the fact that we are informed to be grateful, and to give thanks regardless of the circumstances that we are presented with. No matter what we are faced with, there is an opportunity to learn, and more importantly, we are ALIVE to learn it. Right now, in every moment, we have a chance to learn to be more grateful.
When you truly dig into the scriptures of the Bible, you will garner an understanding of just how important an attitude of gratitude is within our everyday lives. We should always be thankful and exhibit gratitude in a variance of circumstances.
Psalms 136:1 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.”
Per the Bible, we are to be filled with gratitude due to God’s consistent goodness, as well as His love which is steadfast and reliable. As we are able to begin to thoroughly recognize the very nature of our depravity while understanding that there is only death (according to Romans 7:5 and John 10:10), it is natural for us to be expressly grateful in regards to the life that has been gifted to us.
Within Psalms 30:1-12, David is able to exhibit gratitude towards God after a circumstance that was more than difficult. This is a psalm of thanksgiving, that is not only able to praise God within the precise moment, but it also recalls upon the faithfulness of God. This is a statement towards the unwavering character of God, which is wondrous that praise is certainly the singularly appropriate response.
Examples of gratitude within the Bible can be found within the midst of horrific
and cumbersome circumstances. Such is the case when David finds himself crying out to God in Psalms 28:6-7. It was in the middle of great hardship that David was able to convey this. We should all be able to learn from him in the fact that he was able to be grateful when times were not to his liking.
We have all fallen into the trap of believing that hard times equate to failure, or a moment in which we should doubt, or hold on to bitterness. It is during these moments, when shadows overtake our light that we succumb to the belief that all is lost and there is nothing worth being grateful for. This is the greatest untruth of humanity. We are unable to know good without bad. Just as we are unable to know pain without joy. Our greatest lessons come from failure or dark times. This is when we learn. This is when it is brought to our attention what we need to work diligently on. We learn very little from success and constant pats on the back and worry-free days. It is our darkest days that we should actually be the most thankful for. It is these days that we are drawn closer to our true nature. We are to show gratitude for anything that is able to make us better, and for anything that will assist us in making society better.
As we journey through life, we can become easily bombarded with reasons to not show any form of gratitude at all. We can fall prey to the misconceptions of the mainstream that steers us away from gratitude. It is important that we all keep in mind that every day that we are alive and able to improve upon our lives is a gift from God. For every sunrise and sunset that you are able to experience, you are to be thankful. Being alive is a reason to celebrate and be filled with thanksgiving.
We need to break ourselves of the mindset of only being humbled and thankful in times of triumph. We need to not forget or overshadow those times when we are presented with the opportunity to become better people. Moreover, the Bible teaches that gratitude is essential, in all circumstances. For instance, Job had everything stripped from him and yet he remained humble, grateful and faithful. In the end, he was restored far greater than the point at which all was taken from him. Job was grateful for the fact that he had another day to praise, to learn and to rebuild. This is something that we all must keep firmly in mind all given times. The bible teaches us that gratitude is a necessity that will ensure our survival, blessings, humility ad growth.
It is gratitude that allows us to thoroughly and truly see and understand our fellow man. It is the act and attitude of gratitude that allows us to show one other our worth and appreciation. It is through gratitude that we are able to praise one another by reminding each other that we are all something and someone very special indeed. Gratitude keeps us in tuned with the true essence of humanity. This is all what is contained and taught from within the many pages of the Bible. We are all connected, and it is gratitude that reminds us of this and keeps us within this connection. There is truly no you or I….it is but we. For this I am thankful.
By Deborah Perdue
Thanksgiving is drawing ever so close, and maybe it is time to re-evaluate our understanding of this celebration, which is held in such high regard by Americans and Canadians alike. At this time of the year, most of us focus on being thankful, which is great, but we sometimes forget about the weightier and more spiritual concept of gratitude. The two terms are used interchangeably, but they are centuries apart when it comes to implication.
So, what is the difference between gratitude and thankfulness?
Thankfulness refers to expression while gratitude is a state of being
When you sit at the dinner table across from friends and loved ones this thanksgiving, you will be glad that they found the time to be with you. You are thankful for their presence in your life and you are happy that everything has been well with them since the last celebration. However, gratitude goes way deeper than that. It is a state of being, where you feel a sense of appreciation coming from deep within you. You are at peace with the world and you appreciate that state of affairs from deep within. The feeling of calm these thoughts and emotions bring to mind is all fulfilling.
Acts of thankfulness last a moment while gratitude is a way of life
During thanksgiving, we get attuned to the presence of others in our lives. We express our fondness of friends and loved ones, and embrace their gestures of love and affection. The gestures we extend are a sign of thankful- ness. During this time, however, the way we feel and the things we show are a manifestation of our state of mind. Gratefulness is essentially a way of life, and it entails staying aware of our place in universe. It requires us to stay alert of the role of others in our lives, staying connected to what everyone around us does to keep us happy. This is different from the fleeting nature of the act of saying a mere ‘thank you’. Through thankfulness, we get to make a sense of our lives and learn to credit our loved ones with the appreciation they deserve.
Thankfulness is a social norm applicable in general situations while gratitude is the special manifestation of spirituality, love and affection
It is easy to go out to the store and say something nice to an attendant or fellow shopper for one thing or an- other. This is a sign of thankfulness for something they have done for you. You are saying thank you to a stranger, but beyond that, there are no ties. Gratitude is the manifestation of love, devotion and commitment to- wards those who mean the world to you. It encompasses shared experiences, shared love and an understanding that the universe has conspired to keep us happy, and help us understand how connected we are to others.
As we head into that special time in November, find a Gratitude Journal, and open your mind up to just how helpful this simple practice may be on the path toward embracing and better understanding the sheer spirituality in the concept of gratitude.
– Even When Everything Seems To Be Going Wrong!
By Deborah Perdue
There comes a time when everyone experiences a terrible period of failures or upsets in their lives. Relationships crumble; they get fired and realize that they have to train for a new career, or someone dies unexpectedly who was very close to them. At such times, finding something to be positive about or grateful for seems impossible because the only possibility one can see is an unending chain of misfortunes. But believe it or not, this is exactly the kind of experience that can inspire positive change in your life and personality. Rather than think that you’re ill-fated, pull yourself together and be grateful for what you have.
Be grateful for your friends and family
Jim Butcher once said that when everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching are your family. Not everyone is lucky enough to have great relationships with their parents or birth families. Nevertheless, when in difficulties, family is usually the first to comfort you through it all. Family and friends never let you down when the going gets tough.
Be grateful for the little things
It’s hard to admire the beauty of the world when everything in your life seems to be falling apart. You forget that the little, beautiful things are all around you. The flavor of delicious cuisine, the smiles of your kids and family, the sunset and even the cool breezes; these are all little things that you can be grateful for. A small compliment from your boss is a little thing that can boost your spirits and make your day better. The most marvelous things are given to us frequently, and we just have to learn to appreciate them to feel better.
There’s always a choice
The fact that you always have a choice to make is something to be grateful for! The dawn of another day is a chance to make improvements in your life. When going through a rough period, there’s one of two choices you can make; keep complaining about how messed up your life is, or pull yourself together and keep moving forward. Even in the toughest of situations, you always have a choice. It’s sometimes hard to understand this, because it’s harder or requires too much effort, or we are unaware of this fact.
Appreciate the challenges and negative experiences
Believe it or not, one of the most critical elements of handling difficulties is to appreciate the negative experiences. It’s hard to see the positivity in things like this, but challenges make you a mature and more importantly, a stronger person. They build your perseverance, endurance and character. In fact, they teach people to appreciate the current state of af- fairs. And while you may not see it now, you will soon realize the contribution of challenges to new beginnings.
Things could be worse
Everyone tends to think that their problems are the worst and due to egoism, you’re no different. Look around you. Someone else is in a worse situation than you are, and so you are actually lucky. With little effort and desire, your problem can be fixed easily. Like most things in life, problems are relative and right now your situation may seem like nonsense if you compare it with that of someone else. Imagine what the worst scenario would be like, and you’ll soon realize that your life is not as bad as you think.
Appreciate your health
People tend to ignore good health unless they fall sick. It’s good health that enables you to accomplish daily tasks and live a great life. It’s a gift of life that you are able to see the colors of the world, walk, breath or even move your limbs. Health is the foundation of not only your life, but also your personality. There’s no reason to be un- grateful for it because it comes at no cost. Life isn’t as bad as you perceive it to be because you are healthy so ex- press gratitude for this even when your life seems to be falling apart.
Gratitude is vital for coping with difficulties and hardships. You shouldn’t despair regardless of how terrible the times get. Every hardship in life comes with something to be grateful for. You just have to learn how to take note of these advantages, and appreciate them to have a positive outlook on your life. After all, remember that some people out there would choose to be in your shoes right now because their situation is even worse. So be thankful and have an attitude of gratitude.
By Deborah Perdue
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is an expression of thankfulness or appreciation for what a person has. It involves noticing small things in
your life that give you pleasure and acknowledging everything you receive. Being grateful means being aware of how
much you have been given and living your life as if it was a miracle. Thankfulness changes your focus from what is
lacking in your life to the many things that you have. Dr. Emmons, a psychologist who has been studying the art of
thankfulness for more than a decade says that being grateful does not mean you have everything you want. It simply
means that you are aware of what you have been given and you appreciate it.
How to practice gratitude
Thankfulness is not just an emotion that comes along; it is a character that is cultivated. You can think of it as a
something you have to practice until you master it just like yoga, sports or meditation. The practice of being
grateful begins when you start paying attention to all the things you already have that you take for granted. Simple
pleasures such a family house, being married and the ability to hear and enjoy music suddenly takes on a new
meaning. Unlike what most people think, being grateful is not a virtue you only practice when all things all working
well. Gratitude also involves acknowledging the painful and difficult moments and the lessons you learn from
such adversities. Directing your attention towards gratefulness blocks your feelings of victimized even when you
are in the midst of a bad situation.
Writing a gratitude journal or letter is another way to cultivate a state of thankfulness. Writing assists you to
organize your thoughts or experiences and put them into a context. Gratitude writing brings a new and redemptive
frame of reference to assist you cope with adversity. Writing about the things you are grateful about also helps
you create meaning to daily experiences. When you write, you expand and magnify on the sources of goodness in
your life as well as consider the valuable lessons you have learnt from your experiences.
Expressing gratitude is an important aspect of practicing thankfulness. There are many people in your life that
have assisted you in one way or the other. If you have never thanked them, it is time you considered doing so. You
can send them a letter to let them know that their actions meant a lot to you even if they did it along time ago.
Writing a letter may be a simple act and quite cheap, but it sends a powerful message to the recipient.
How practicing gratitude enhances your life
So, now you know what gratitude is and how to cultivate it, it is time to focus on how practicing it can improve
your life. While many personality traits and emotions are critical to your general well being, evidence shows that
thankfulness is uniquely important to your life. Grateful people are known to sleep better and have better relationships.
Such people are said to be more creative and are likely to live longer compared to people who are bitter and
grumble about almost everything.
Dr. Emmons and a fellow psychologist, Michael McCullough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas,
conducted a study on gratitude by splitting the participants into 3 groups and giving each of the participants a diary.
The first group was instructed to record any events of the day whether good or bad. The 2nd group was told to record
unpleasant experiences and the last group was instructed to record things for which they were grateful.
The study found that the group that recorded things and events that they were grateful about showed high
levels of alertness, exhibited confidence in achieving their goals and were more willing to help others out compared
to the other two groups.
Practicing the art of giving thanks has been shown to have immense benefits to people’s lives. People who
are grateful tend to be happier, more resilient and have stronger relationships. Thankfulness also reduces stress
and enhances your health. According to Cicero, gratitude is not just the highest of the virtues; it is also the
parent of all the others. Many studies have established a link between increased well being and thankfulness.
The link between happiness, health and gratitude established by these studies has been strengthened by the
positive psychology movement that has embraced the concept and begun incorporating the practice of thankfulness
into their movement.
Gratitude is closely linked to mental health and fulfillment. Grateful people are more enthusiastic, have more
joy and are rarely overtaken by destructive emotions such as bitterness, greed and envy. Gratitude has been shown
to reduce the risk of anxiety, substance abuse disorders and depression .This is achieved by enhancing irretrievability
and coding of positive experiences. People who practice gratitude are more capable of controlling their environment,
purpose in life, personal growth and self acceptance. Grateful people tend to be more positive and
proactive in dealing with bad experiences and are likely to seek support, grow from their experiences and spend
more time seeking for ways to deal with problems. Ultimately, thankfulness gives you steadfast believe and hope
that goodness exists even when all seems lost.
Thankfulness is not only good for the mind; it is also great for the body. People who experience gratitude are
able to cope better with stress and enjoy robust physical health including better functioning of the immune system
and quick recovery from illness. Unlike other emotions that are linked to positivity such as happiness and hope,
gratitude is inherently relational. It goes past the person who is experiencing into the social realm. Gratitude has
been shown to be the driving force behind acts of kindness since it is normal for people to respond to gifts with
heartfelt gifts of their own which strengthens bonds with others.
When all is said and done, what is gratitude and how it can enhance your life can be summed up in Meister
Eckhart’s profound statement “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would be enough.”
You can email email@example.com to receive free daily affirmations in your email box Monday – Friday. Posts are about a myriad of things/people/qualities that I am grateful for in my life, from the mundane and simple to the more complicated parts of life! It is my joy to present them each day.
Here is a sample from this week:
So very grateful for the abundant love that surrounds me:
shared with my birth family, in my marriage, in the plethora of like-minded friends I have
so easily felt with our cherished dogs, and the ever-cheerful cockatiels
And I am grateful for my own loving, caring, compassionate heart
Love is the glue that holds us all together
and we are always immersed in it, and permeated with it
I am thankful for all the love everywhere!
Love abounds in this universe –
let me focus on that.
Deborah Perdue, RScP
Author of “Grace of Gratitude Journal”
Center for Spiritual Living
Spiritual counseling by phone or skype —
call for appt.
Gratitude, schmatitude – or so I thought. I’m not saying I was against it, or didn’t believe in it, but it was just that, as an artist who creates predominantly cheerful, positive, spiritual images, I figured I was already practicing some form of happy release by putting brush to paper so I didn’t necessarily need to put pencil to paper and write down the things I was grateful for .
I was wrong.
When Deborah initially asked me to create illustrations for this new Grace of Gratitude Journal she was writing, I basically saw it as just another project where an author (okay, granted, in this case, also one of my closest friends) was asking me to put visuals to words.
Something interesting happened in the process though.
Because Deborah gave me “carte blanche” to just create any images that came to me (which was a refreshing change to the usual routine where I have to follow strict guidelines from authors and publishers to create a specified image), I felt this whole new transformation take place. I found myself wanting to paint, paint, paint! Images flooded me and I created them as quickly as they flowed through. Then an interesting thing happened: Deborah then sent me the affirmations she had written and, who would have thought? They puzzled in perfectly with my images. Meant to be!
But that wasn’t all.
Now my appetite had been whetted to this “gratitude thing” and I realized painting was only part of this incredibly-transformative process, because there’s something about writing something down where real magic occurs. It’s like a tornado. It’s like taking all these emotions and experiences and insights that are just gaining intensity and swirling around in the soul’s atmosphere and then suddenly, BAM!, grounding them by writing them! The tornado touches down and, in a wonderful, positive way, it’s like this vortex of focused energy just spins through your life and it gathers speed and momentum and pulls to itself all good things on the path it rips through in your life!
Try it (you’ll see what I’m talking about)!