Gratitude: the game changer

A Christian Science perspective.

I was returning from a trip to see my family. It had been a wonderful couple of days of biking, swimming, and relaxing. But inside I felt tumultuous and I had no idea why. On top of feeling mentally stirred up, I wasn’t feeling well physically. In front of me was a whole day of travel; things looked bleak.

At first I tried to figure out a reason for my turmoil. But this didn’t work, and I knew that continuing down this road would be a waste of time.

I needed a new approach. So I decided to turn to God. I felt confident doing this because I was used to leaning on God for help in lots of different situations. I find that turning to God, whom I understand to be divine Love, is always comforting. And besides feeling comforted, I find that God always guides me correctly – gives me practical, tangible ideas that I need to help me go forward.

As I listened, I heard the idea I needed: Focus on being grateful for all the good in your life. Just fill your thought with gratitude. So I did.

My gratitude list was a long one. I thanked God for the love of my family, for the beautiful day (even if I was in the airport), for my home, for satisfying work, for God’s love, for friends, for God’s willingness to guide me, and for God’s control. And I thanked God for being my Father-Mother, for being a God who isn’t removed from my life but is right with me every moment and caring for me.

I don’t know how long I focused on gratitude. But within a short time I felt completely different. I felt peaceful and joyful; I felt God’s closeness. Then I noticed I was feeling well again. I ended up having a wonderful flight.

This experience gave me a deeper understanding of the power of gratitude. Even though I’d felt bombarded in the airport by physical symptoms and mental tumult, my gratitude to God helped me feel connected to God’s love, His help. Focusing on my thanks to God stopped me from going down the dead-end road of mental analysis, calmed me down, and assured me that I couldn’t be cut off from God’s goodness. And praising God woke me up to see that God is always giving me and each one of us health and harmony.

Gratitude also helped me recognize that I didn’t need to delve into trying to fix everything myself. Instead, I could trust that praising and acknowledging God was enough. Thanking God woke me up so that I could hear His messages of good, which overcome evil.

Praising God has rescued many from imprisoning, fearful situations.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul and his friend Silas had been beaten and thrown in jail (see Acts 16:19-40) – a much bleaker situation than I had faced. “At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God:.... And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, said the following about the power of gratitude: “Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 3).

Gratitude helps us feel our ongoing connection to the power and presence of God. And feeling connected to God, not separated, leads to hearing the direction and ideas we need for progress and healing.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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