said that the pilgrims dug twice the number of graves
than they built huts to live in. But they created and
observed a holiday of gratitude which we now call Thanksgiving.
They were religious, yes, but they were also pretty
smart about how gratitude could help them survive in
the "New World".
The Lord Buddha said "Let us rise up and be thankful,
for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned
a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least
we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we
didn't die; and if we did die, then we should be thankful
that we ever lived". Meister Eckhart said that
if the only prayer you said in your whole life was,
"thank you," that would suffice. Let us reflect
on gratitude or thanksgiving and see what is involved
When you think about people like Schweitzer, Gandhi,
Mother Teresa, or others who really gave themselves
away. They really led a selfless life, for the benefit
of other people.
In the cases of Mother Teresa and others that are talked
about in the literature, one of the qualities that tend
to motivate them is gratitude. They don't seem to fit
the usual conception of gratitude where you see a benefit
and then you're grateful. They felt grateful for the
opportunity to help, as opposed to receiving help. They
knew there was some benefit for them in developing compassion
or whatever it was, and so they didn't need to receive
gratefulness from the people they helped. I think what
enabled them to persist under stressful circumstances
was just the ability to be helpful, which created in
them a sense of gratitude, a sense of purpose, that
they wouldn't otherwise have had.
I think it's important to stress that gratitude is really
a choice. It doesn't depend upon circumstances or genetic
wiring or something that we don't have control over.
It really becomes an attitude that we can choose that
makes life better for ourselves and for other people.
I think about it as the best approach to life and I
think that the pilgrims did also. When things go well
gratitude enables us to savor things going well. When
things go poorly, gratitude enables us to get over those
situations and to realize they are temporary and this
helps us greatly.
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a seemingly
good day irritated by the slightest little thing? Maybe
the traffic on the road home was stalled, or special
plans for the evening were disrupted. And, that one
little thing shifts your whole mindset into negativity.
The next time this happens, consider stopping yourself
in mid-grumble and opening your mind to all that you
could be grateful for instead. Your friends, family,
home, car-or just the chance God has given you to take
in all that this beautiful day holds. Not only will
you find your attitude blossoming into one of great
peace, you'll open up the pathways to let more abundance
into your life.
Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore once wrote: "It
has been found by experience that a person increases
his blessings by being grateful for what he has. Gratitude
even on the mental plane is a great magnet. When gratitude
is expressed from the spiritual standpoint it is powerfully
When you express gratitude for what you've been given-even
if it is in the form of being grateful for a challenge-God
hears your heart's joy and responds in kind. When we
are happy in our heart and soul, whatever we need flows
to us by divine grace.
It's with great delight that we should remember this
idea, not just during the Thanksgiving holiday, but
throughout the year. After all, isn't giving thanks
at all times really just reaffirming our trust in and
love for God?
Researchers find the virtues of gratitude include good
In recent years, many scientists have begun examining
the links between religion and good health, both physical
and mental. Now two psychologists are working to unlock
the puzzle of how faith might promote happiness. Dr.
Michael McCollough, of Southern Methodist University
in Dallas, Texas, and Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University
of California at Davis, say their initial scientific
study indicates that gratitude plays a significant role
in a person's sense of well-being.
From Cicero to Buddha, many philosophers and spiritual
teachers have celebrated gratitude. The world's major
religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and
Hindu, prize gratitude as a morally beneficial emotional
state that encourages reciprocal kindness. Pastors,
priests, parents and grandparents have long extolled
the virtues of gratitude, but until recently, scholars
have largely ignored it as a subject of scientific inquiry.
McCollough and Emmons were curious about why people
involved in their faith seem to have more happiness
and a greater sense of well-being than those who aren't
and decided to study the connections. After making initial
observations and compiling all the previous research
on gratitude, they conducted the Research Project on
Gratitude and Thanksgiving. The study required several
hundred people in three different groups to keep daily
diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events
that occurred during the day, while the second group
recorded their unpleasant experiences. The last group
made a daily list of things for which they were grateful.
The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude
exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness,
enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally,
the gratitude group experienced less depression and
stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more
regularly and made more progress toward personal goals.
According to the findings, people who feel grateful
are also more likely to feel loved. McCollough and Emmons
also noted that gratitude encouraged a positive cycle
of reciprocal kindness among people since one act of
gratitude encourages another.
says these results also seem to show that gratitude
works independently of faith. Though gratitude is a
substantial part of most religions, he says the benefits
extend to the general population, regardless of faith
or lack thereof. In light of his research, McCullough
suggests that anyone can increase their sense of well-being
and create positive social effects just from counting
I am grateful for my life and especially for my profession
as a clinical hypnotherapist and teacher. I am full
of gratitude for being able to help people in distress.
Look at your own life and, no matter what your problems,
think about the blessings you have. Just to be alive