Are you a thanksgiver?

Today’s column explores the healing power of gratitude – all year long.

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner in the United States. And lately I’ve been thinking about being grateful not just on this holiday but during the rest of the year, too. How can I be a more consistent “thanksgiver”?

The beneficial effects of a grateful outlook have increasingly been recognized. According to studies these include improved mental and physical health, better relationships, and greater general well-being. And while we might be motivated to feel grateful for many different reasons, more and more I’ve realized that gratitude is most powerful when motivated by spiritual love. When we attribute the good in our life to the Divine, we open ourselves up to seeing the blessings of that infinite source of all goodness – including inspiration, answers to problems, and healing.

Even back in biblical times, people recognized the importance of giving thanks to God. For instance, the book of Psalms is filled with songs of praise to God. More than once Christ Jesus is recorded as giving thanks to God before bringing healing to a person or situation – affirming the goodness of God, divine Love, as being supreme even in dark situations.

And isn’t that what we all need to do? While it’s often easy to be grateful during good times, giving thanks during difficult times enables us to feel the presence and power of our Father-Mother God, giving us the courage to keep going. Christian theologian and author Mary Baker Eddy, no stranger to hardship and disappointment, wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts” (p. 261).

This was an intelligently reasoned conclusion Mrs. Eddy reached after experiencing firsthand the practicality of spiritual truth. Through a sincere search for Truth, she came to understand that God is the source of all goodness, and that healing results from gratefully acknowledging and glimpsing the absolute supremacy of God, or divine good. She called this discovery of the laws of spiritual healing Christian Science.

One time that I experienced the power of a grateful heart was when looking for new employment. While I greatly wanted to leave my current job, above all I wanted to follow divine Love’s, God’s, guidance, rather than human will. So my approach included consciously being grateful. To me, gratitude is a form of prayer that magnifies all the good God is and imparts.

As I went about each day, I looked for every opportunity to appreciate the good around me. I saw more clearly that just like divine Love itself, God’s goodness is infinite. It is not limited to a few lucky people, but is expressed throughout His entire creation, which includes all of us. This means there is an abundance of good for everyone.

As my gratitude deepened, I developed more of a “listening” mode rather than being willful about what my next steps should be. As I was waiting for divine inspiration to lead me, a thought came to me to contact a particular department at an institution that I had some acquaintance with and ask about employment.

It was a timely call. They were in the process of creating a new position that seemed right up my alley. I applied, then waited patiently, trusting that even if I didn’t get the job, God’s goodness was still there for me and everyone. In the end they offered me the job. It proved to be a great fit, and I prayed to see that there would also be a place somewhere that was right for each of the many other candidates.

Holding our thought to what’s good, to the spiritual reality of God’s limitless love and care for all, is not always easy, especially if we’ve developed a habit of cynicism and negativity. But we can always make a choice about what kinds of thoughts we will entertain. God gives each of us the ability to recognize His goodness and to see it manifested in our lives and beyond.

As we make an earnest effort to be habitually grateful to God, we begin to see ripple effects. So let’s not confine expressions of gratitude for divine goodness to Thanksgiving Day. We can be a thanksgiver every day. The more we do it, the more good we’ll see for ourselves and others. And that’s something to be grateful for!

Adapted from an article originally published at mycentraljersey.com, Nov. 22, 2016.

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