St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton
Christ Our Joy: The Theological Vision of Pope Benedict XVI by Monsignor Joseph Murphy
The Happiness Project:by Gretchen Rubin
Online Articles and Videos of Interest:
But as I lay down to sleep, I remembered this passage from Thoreau’s Walden: “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.” Walden reminds me that when I feel lacking- I don’t need new things, I need new eyes with which to see the things I already have. So when I woke up this morning, I walked into my kitchen wearing fresh perspectacles. Here’s what I saw.
You guys. I have a REFRIGERATOR. This thing MAGICALLY MAKES FOOD COLD. I’m pretty sure in the olden days, frontierswomen had to drink warm Diet Coke. Sweet Jesus. Thank you, precious kitchen.
I am raising four girls and a boy. And few things are more paramount in my mind than having them avoid the culture of cynicism that oppresses so many around them. This ironic detachment from anything scares the heck out of me.
But consider this: Negative attitudes are bad for you. And gratitude, it turns out, makes you happier and healthier. If you invest in a way of seeing the world that is mean and frustrated, you’re going to get a world that is, well, more mean and frustrating. But if you can find any authentic reason to give thanks, anything that is going right with the world or your life, and put your attention there, then statistics say you’re going to be better off.
Does this mean to live in a state of constant denial and put your head in the sand? Of course not. Gratitude works when you’re grateful for something real. Feeling euphoric and spending money like you just won the lottery when you didn’t is probably going to make you real poor, real quick. But what are you actually grateful for? It’s a question that could change your life.
Gratitude (and its sibling, appreciation) is the mental tool we use to remind ourselves of the good stuff. It’s a lens that helps us to see the things that don’t make it onto our lists of problems to be solved. It’s a spotlight that we shine on the people who give us the good things in life. It’s a bright red paintbrush we apply to otherwise-invisible blessings, like clean streets or health or enough food to eat.
Gratitude is a state of mind that arises when you affirm a good thing in your life that comes from outside yourself, or when you notice and relish little pleasures. Though some people and things are clear blessings, this state of mind doesn’t actually depend on your life circumstances. Whether it’s the sight of a lovely face or a tasty bite of food or good health, there is always something to be grateful for. Even bad experiences at least teach us something. And gratitude is not just a feeling outside your control that arrives willy-nilly. It’s more like a radio channel: you can choose at any time to tune in.
Gratitude acknowledges connection, and perhaps for this reason it is central to spiritual traditions worldwide, including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and East Asian religions. When we contemplate our place in the intricate, interdependent network of life, we feel wonder and joy. That realization can lead us to express thanksgiving.