Okay, I know that Thanksgiving in the United States is just around the corner. But, it got me thinking about the holiday and what it means — how I could be more grateful during the rest of the year. How I could be a more consistent thanksgiver. Studies show the benefits of gratitude include improved mental anad physical health, relationships, and general well being.
Even back in Biblical times, people recognized the importance of giving thanks. The Book of Psalms is filled with songs of praise to God. Christ Jesus was recorded as giving thanks to God before he raised Lazarus from the dead. “Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”
He must have realized how important it was to affirm the goodness of God, divine Love, as being supreme even in that dark situation. And isn’t that what we all need to do? While it’s easy to be grateful during good times, giving thanks during difficult times is what gives us the courage to keep going. The more we acknowledge the good in life, the more we will feel the presence and power of our Father-Mother God acting on our behalf.
Now some may equate a grateful attitude with just positive thinking. And for some it might be — nothing wrong with that. For example, some people advise gratitude practices such as:
- Writing down three or more things you are grateful for each day.
- Reviewing your list each week and seeing how it grows.
- Writing a thank you note to someone.
- Calling a friend and telling them how you appreciate them.
These are excellent suggestions. But they can be most beneficial when motivated by spiritual love. There is a big difference between positive thinking and prayer that honors the divine all-power. When we attribute the good in our life to the divine power, we open ourselves up to the infinite source of all goodness that’s just waiting to bless us if we only recognize it. This kind of prayer opens a door through which we begin to receive inspiration and answers to problems.
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.”
This was no Pollyanna naivete of seeing only good and ignoring the bad. It was a conclusion she reached after experiencing first-hand the practicality of spiritual truth. In the middle of homelessness, poverty, betrayal, and loneliness she continued to give thanks to God, knowing He was governing every situation — and her life turned around. After many years of sincere searching for Truth, she discovered laws of spiritual healing, which she called Christian Science. This method of cure is not a technique of the human mind, human will, or “mind over matter.” It’s genuine healing through prayer, yielding the human mind or will to the divine Mind or infinite Love. Eddy believed that God was the source of all goodness, and she found that healing results from gratefully acknowledging the absolute supremacy of God or divine Good.
After her discovery, she began a fruitful career that included healing and teaching others to heal; founding a church with a publishing arm; and starting an international newspaper, “The Christian Science Monitor,” for the purpose of blessing all mankind. Perhaps these fruits of her gratitude to God are one reason Christian Science churches worldwide hold Thanksgiving services where everyone can share thanks.
Holding our thought to what’s good is not always easy. Especially if we’ve developed a habit of cynicism and negativity. But, we can always make a conscious choice about what kind of thoughts we will entertain.
As you make an earnest effort to be habitually grateful to God, you’ll begin to see the ripple effect of this attitude. So don’t confine expressing gratitude for the divine goodness in your life to Thanksgiving Day. You can be a thanksgiver right now and every day. The more you do it, the more good you’ll see. And that’s something to be grateful for.
Valerie Minard writes regularly on the connection between consciousness, spirituality, and health. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in New Jersey. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @valerieminard.