A59 The Psychology of Gratitude: Gratitude is an especially important emotion or state of mind for one seeking happiness

When we worry about what we do not have, we forget and thus lose all the wonderful things we do have. Ken Keyes calls this “The mosquito effect”. If there are ten mosquitoes in a room, and we manage to eliminate nine of them, we will still be annoyed by the one remaining. If we have ten problems and solve nine of them, rather than being grateful for the nine solutions, we worry about the remaining problem. Or if a we own ten objects and lose one of them, rather than being grateful for and enjoying the remaining nine, we will be discontent about the one we have lost. We have so much to be grateful for and yet gratitude is a rarely felt emotion. This is especially true if we compare our lives with 80 % of those sharing the planet with us. We would all benefit by realizing how blessed our lives are. Sharing such positive feelings of appreciation and gratitude and joy also enrichen and beautiful our environment and the lives of those around us. A simple technique is to spend a few minutes each day of or even listing those aspects of our lives which we could be grateful for. Even the most taken for granted simplicities of life such as running water, a warm home, friends and family can be sources of joy when seen through such eyes. Some have even developed the ability to feel grateful for ordinarily unpleasant experiences and even for injustices because they often offer us the opportunity to develop inner strength and deep insight into our selves and life it self.

” Dear Lord, thank you for all the wonderful things you give us every day. The sun which warms our bodies and all the world; which produces food for us to eat and thus stay alive. For all the types of food, the lovely apples, pears, fruits of all kinds, the vegetables so green and fresh, nuts, beans and grains of all kinds. Thank you for the cows, sheep and goats who give us their milk for cheese and yogurt to keep our bones strong. Thank you for the beauty of nature around us, the trees, and green grass, the blue of the sky, the sea and rivers in which we bathe and are refreshed. The water we drink and which we use to clean our bodies, clothing and homes. Thank you for our comfortable homes which protect us from the extremes of nature, for we realize that not all beings have such comfort as we. Thank you for the clothing we wear which keeps us warm and beautiful. Thank you for the air we breathe which gives us life force and joy (even if we have polluted it somewhat).

” Dear Lord, thank you for our families whom we love so much and who love us. Thank you for all our friends and relatives, and even the strangers, who we are eventually meeting and befriending with. Thank you even for our enemies who teach us many lessons and strengthen our character. Thank you for books, magazines and films which inform us. Thank you for all the philosophies, religions and psychology which help us to understand ourselves and the world around us. Thank you for all the teachers and spiritual guides who help us on our way to you.

” Thank you for your Son Jesus Christ who came to show the way and continues to guide us from within. Thank you for Buddha, for Mohammed, for Krishna, for Rama, for Sai Baba and all the prophets and sages who bring your message of truth, love and peace for us to live.

” Thank you for the telephone which makes communication so easy. Thank you for the cars, trains, boats and airplanes all of which help us learn and grow into one world family. Thank you for all the machinery and technology which helps us to have more time and energy to spend for our mental and spiritual development. Thank you for all the farmers who work to provide us with food, thank you for the rain and all the conditions which make the food possible.

” Thank, dear Lord, for these bodies and all their capabilities of perceiving and acting so that we may enjoy and participate in this lovely world. Thank you for the ability to hear and see, to taste, smell and feel. Thank you for the ability to walk, run, dance and work. Thank you for the ability to rest, to relax and sleep, to dream and fantasize. Thank you for the ability to create, to sing, to whistle, to hum, to write, to draw, to make things and to solve problems. Thank you for the ability to use our minds to think, to wonder about life, to learn about life and after life. Thank you for the system of yoga and other exercises, the techniques which help us keep our bodies healthy and our minds happy. Thank you for all the exercises for the body and the breath, for the deep relaxation, for meditation and prayer. Thank you for spiritual wisdom which helps us view life in a more objective and relaxed way.

” Thank you for the inclination to improve ourselves to become better human beings. Thank you for the will power with which we learn to conquer our lower nature and grow into beings of love and wisdom. Thank you for the discontentment and problems of life through which we are tested. Thank you for the difficult situations and problematic people, who are opportunities for us to call up our inner strength and gain greater faith in our ability to face the world around us. Thank you for the other beings who are seeking the same goals who give us strength along this spiritual effort.

” Thank you for life and thank you for death, through which we learn the truth of the temporary nature of this physical life with which we are absorbed. Thank you for the death of the loved ones which teaches us to become more spiritually centered, more concentrated on the soul rather than the body. Thank you for the death of our own body which reminds us of our temporary physical nature and immortal spiritual nature. Thank you for our gain and loss, pleasure and pain, joy and depression so that we may eventually learn to transcend them in our realization of our inner Bliss. Thank you for the good and evil so that we may develop discrimination which leads to wisdom and the Truth.

” Thank you and thank you and thank you; for there is no end to the wonderful gifts for which we feel grateful. But most of all thank you for our awareness of YOU, that you are there; that you are with us always in every situation to support us, that you are within us and actually are the very center, the reality, the foundation of our being. Thank you for awakening within us the desire to merge once again with you. And finally (if there is really any end to all this) thank you for the ability to be thankful.

A SIMPLE PRAYER BY ST. FRANCIS

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred… let me sow love.
Where there is injury… pardon.
Where there is discord… unity.
Where there is doubt… faith.
Where there is error… truth.
Where there is despair… hope.
Where there is sadness… joy.
Where there is darkness… light.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek.
To be consoled… as to console.
To be understood… as to understand.
To be loved… as to love.

For
It is in giving… that we receive.
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned.
It is in dying … that we are born
to eternal life.

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