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Spirituality Essay:

Gratitude    ( June 2004 )

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I've shared my thoughts on gratitude a few times this year. I find it the "oil in our spiritual machinery" that enables growth to keep moving forward, our lives to continue getting better.

Why? We all have many wonderful things happening to us all the time . . . things we do and accomplish, outside events that enter our lives, pleasures we feel with all that's happening. Often we're (seemingly justifiably) too caught up in what's wrong, what's not happening that we overlook all the wonderful moments that are also occurring.

I don't know exactly why or how it works, but regular reflection on the positives - and, importantly, heartfelt appreciation for them! - seems to bring more and better things flowing into our lives.

Each night, before retiring, I try to recollect a few moments in the day that stood out . . . where I felt so glad to be alive in that moment of pleasure, or connection, or accomplishment. They come readily, after a little practice. I express my gratitude for them, those gifts, those moments of feeling alive . . . that "being me" who got to have this in my life . . . that exalted spiritual feeling of identity, aliveness, and interconnectedness.

It's possible also my dreams are affected, which then work for me, subconsciously. But mainly, I know that the spiritual practice of noticing the good things that are happening in my life, and valuing and being grateful for them, changes me. I find myself enjoying life more in the moment, as it happens as well, because I'm tuned into and more sensitive to all the good things I'd be otherwise oblivious to. Opportunities taken to slow down and pause, during the day, help enhance these moments of awareness and appreciation.

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
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