Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday thoughts -- gratitude

I received the following quote in my inbox this week and found it moving:

"When something manifestly good and generous happens, it is natural to respond with gratitude. But in a way, the very naturalness of this response has its downside, for it appears to confirm the notion that gratitude is a response; it is evoked by a prior action. And it is exactly this notion that the great spiritual teachers of all traditions have consistently challenged. And precisely in this challenge lies our freedom.

Yes, it's easy to be grateful when something good has been done for you (although, sadly, even this healthy human response seems increasingly under challenge in our escalating culture of entitlement and victimhood). But have you ever thought about gratitude not as a response but as a force in its own right; an initiating and healing energy that is not dependent on external circumstances but is rather an innate power of the human soul? When understood and wielded in this fashion, it has the power to liberate us from our self-imposed prisons of self-pity and envy and to actually change our circumstances.

In plain words, we can actually change our reality by being grateful first; not as a response but as an innate way of being. It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of this motion, but whoever learns the secret of proactive gratitude taps into that "living water" described in the New Testament, that becomes a source of healing for one's own life and for the whole world."

-- Cynthia Bourgeault, Episcopal priest

And here are some quotes on gratitude that I include with the gratitude journals I have been giving as gifts:

“As you start to write, you could ask yourself, ‘How did God bless me today?’ If you do that long enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And sometimes, you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God’s hand in your life.”
-- Henry B. Eyring (Remembrance and Gratitude, Ensign, Nov. 1989)

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life.”
-- Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance

“Expressing gratitude brings us humility. In a world where we have been given so much and might be severely tempted to pride, gratitude stands as a barrier, for one cannot feel pride and gratitude at the same time.”
-- S. Michael Wilcox

“[Gratitude] is a quality I have found in every happy person I know. It is a quality that instantly makes a person more likable and more at peace. Where there is an abundance of this virtue, there is happiness. Where there is an absence of this virtue, there is often sadness, resentment and futility…”
-- Joseph B. Wirthlin (Live in Thanksgiving Daily, Ensign, September 2001)

Personally I have found that it is impossible to feel gratitude and unhappiness at the same time. When I am feeling down and out, reaching for feelings of gratitude lifts me every single time. I have thoroughly enjoyed focusing on gratitude for this whole week -- thanks for the invitation, Rebecca!


Natasha said...

I am drooling over those gratitude journals - what great gifts!

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

This is powerful "stuff" Michelle. Each quote and thought is loaded. These things are definitely true and I have loved reading your list all week.

amy m said...

your books are fabulous and what a great gift. The girls will love them.

love the quotes. thanks for sharing, I was looking for a gratitude quote for one of my projects.

TX Girl said...

I love the gratitude journals. They really are lovely.

(I'm paraphrasing quite terribly here) One of the talks today included a story given by a general authority. He said they were visiting a couple with an ailing friend. He only briefly knew about the circumstances, but they asked him to pray with them. In turn he asked his wife to say the prayer, but asked that she only express thanks for blessing received. He recounted this really beautiful prayer.

Thanks for sharing.

Jill said...

That is definitely a meaty quote. I especially love this part, "When understood and wielded in this fashion, it has the power to liberate us from our self-imposed prisons of self-pity and envy and to actually change our circumstances."

carlo said...

what wonderful quotes and thoughts you have captured. the gratitude journals are beautiful

your YW will be thirlled

wende said...

you have the luckiest young women in the world! these are absolutely beautiful and i'm sure they will treasure them forever!

your different quotes lifted my spirits, i wish i could put all of them in vinyl on the walls without it being too much!

thank you for this wonderful post!

rmt said...

Thanks for sharing the thoughts on gratitude!

I love every single one of the journals you made, and what a wonderful gift for your Young Women! They are blessed to have a leader like you.

Amanda :-) said...

Yes, that first quote is quite a show-stopper. It's reading this post that makes me think I spend far too much time telling my husband how my day has gone WRONG when he comes home, rather than sharing what has gone right.

Those journals are ridiculously pretty!

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