Finding Reasons for Gratitude

I usually write these letters a few weeks before you see them. And before that, I start thinking about what I want to tell you, often drawing from a recent personal experience and sharing a spiritual insight.

I was thinking recently about the message I wanted to share in this month’s letter. Perhaps not surprisingly, my thoughts turned to gratitude. In the Midwestern United States, pumpkins and fall leaves are everywhere and Thanksgiving is on the horizon. A letter about the importance of gratitude and its role in spiritual living seemed like a natural.

Around the same time, I started having shortness of breath and knew I was dealing with more than the cold symptoms I had been fighting off for a few days. The folks at the urgent care clinic told me my oxygen intake was low and my pulse dangerously high. They urged me to go to the nearest emergency department and told me I probably had pneumonia.

How, I wondered, could I feel grateful for that? After all, it wasn’t that long ago I couldn’t turn my neck for several weeks. Why was I dealing with another health challenge so soon?

I was feeling frustrated, irritated, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit, a little sorry for myself. I tried to pull myself out of it. After all, so many people in the world are dealing with hardships far greater than mine.

I looked for reasons to feel grateful about my current state. It was easy to compile an initial list: I’m grateful for easy access to good medical care, for medications, time to recuperate, and a loving, supportive spouse. I was even grateful my situation wasn’t worse.

As I added more items to my gratitude list, I felt a shift inside. I was still congested and short of breath, but my symptoms were no longer my focus. Instead, I felt lighter, calmer, even optimistic. My feelings of appreciation and gratitude lifted me beyond my limited, human perspective and into a higher realm, the realm of spiritual understanding.

Gratitude helped me realize my symptoms were temporary and the truth of me is wholeness. In that moment, I may not have been breathing any easier, but I had been healed through the power of gratitude.

Being grateful in all things is the key to knowing the fullness of joy in the lighter times and having peace of mind during life’s darker moments.

The Gifts of a Gratitude Practice

I felt a renewed appreciation for having a gratitude practice and freshly in awe of its transformational power. I’ve come to believe there is always something for which to be grateful, even in moments of hardship.

That’s not to say the present moment’s difficulties should be overlooked or sugarcoated with forced smiles and happy words. But it is to say that tougher moments can be transcended—even if only for a few moments at a time—by practicing gratitude.

I invite you to remember the power of gratitude the next time you’re facing vexing circumstances. Find something, however small, however fleeting, that you can be grateful for and focus on it. You may discover that this practice will not remove you from the unpleasantness of your present reality but instead place you even more resolutely in it. Sound paradoxical? Not at all.

Staying present to whatever is showing up in your life while also being mindful of the Divine in and all around you is the greatest gift of a gratitude practice. It’s living in the awareness that trials are temporary, and every moment is a gift—even the tough ones.

Being grateful in all things is the key to knowing the fullness of joy in the lighter times and having peace of mind during life’s darker moments.

As those of us in the United States prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving in a few weeks, please know we at Daily Word and Unity World Headquarters are grateful for you. It is our honor and privilege to serve you.

About the Author

Rev. Teresa Burton is an ordained Unity minister and licensed Unity teacher. A dynamic speaker and creative instructor, Burton makes Unity teachings easy to understand and fun to learn. Before answering the call to ministry, she worked as an editor for more than 25 years in various capacities in print and digital publishing.

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