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Attitude of Gratitude

What happens when you take someone who already has a practice of gratitude and a generally optimistic outlook on life and deepen their gratitude practice?  I honestly wasn’t expecting much to come of it.

Years ago I saw the wall calendar of a very busy and also very faith filled mentor.  I noted they had written either single words or sentences at the bottom of each packed day on the calendar.  They explained that they were too busy to keep a journal but noted what they were grateful for each day in plain site to keep up the practice.  As a busy person myself I latched onto this practice.  I had always found journaling hard to keep up with but this seemed doable (and it has been).  I have kept up with jotting down things I am grateful for on the bottom of my calendar, daily to do lists, papers I am making sermon notes and church notes on.  They have been little reminders for me that I run across and document on an almost daily basis.  This has done me good.  Deepened my prayer life, improved my mood, helped to keep me focused on what I value.  I never expected to change it, until I did.

Recently I started a badge with the scouts I lead on the science of happiness.  One of the first challenges I have them was to write down two or three things each day that make them happy.  I wanted them to take note of whether or not this changed their mood or their day.  In setting this challenge I found I was having a lot of conversations about what the scouts were writing and what I myself was documenting each day as well.  In having those conversations I realized I had more than a few words to say and I enjoyed the discussions so much I took a leap of faith for the tune of $2.99 when I saw a journal at a discount store. Even though this was already a practice I enjoyed and engaged in the effects of starting my new journal were immediate and noticeable.  I began to get questions after writing “why are you smiling like that?”  “What are you so happy about?”  Simply put… gratitude.  I am so happy about my practice of gratitude.  What I had not realized is that because I was jotting my gratitude down on work materials I wasn’t beginning my day with that gratitude.  I don’t get out my calendar, to do list, or phone until at least and hour after I wake up each day.  That first sacred hour is devoted to moving my body, prayer, reflection etc.  So although I was recording what I was grateful for after I prayed, my gratitude was not informing, or rather transforming the way I prayed.  What a difference that has made!

What you may ask has made it’s way into this gratitude journal?  You, my church.  I find not a day goes by when I am not grateful for the work we do together as church.  Both the celebrations and the struggles.  I am grateful that you all feel comfortable enough to speak up when things are not going well, that we have a chance to grow and improve, to share with one another.  I am grateful for the support I get and all the opportunities I have to be part of your lives and the life of our region and general church.  There is so much to be grateful for and I am astounded each day by it all.  Thank you for being you dear church!  And thank you for being part of my life.

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