Growing in gratitude grounds and deepens one's spiritual life. This age-old Christian practice has been affirmed by modern health sciences, especially by positive psychology. To cultivate a grateful heart:
Find a journal to use as your gratitude journal.
Try to practice gratitude 10 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week, for 3 weeks.
Use either of the two methods below.
A. Prayerful reflection:
I sit with my back upright, feet planted to the floor.
I take seven slow & deep breaths, breathing in fully and breathing out completely, letting myself relax. I continue breathing deeply for a few minutes. Breathing in, I receive all that is life, strength, love, peace, God. Breathing out, I let go all that makes me anxious, fearful, worried, self-preoccupied, self-divided. (2')
I let my breathing help me come to a greater awareness of God, in the unique way that I sense God. (1')
I try to get in touch with the last time I felt loved, at peace, or connected to God. (2')
Looking back on my experiences today, I reflect on the following questions:
What am I especially grateful for?
When or with whom did I feel energized, connected, hopeful ...?
What surprised me today? Were there any disguided gifts (that started as a struggle)?
How does the above recognition of gifts draw me closer to the Giver and reveal God's personal love for me?
I pray the Glory Be or in my own words to thank God for this practice of gratitude.
I end by journaling for a few minutes using this prompt: What remains in me at this time?
B. Journaling - use the suggested steps below or click here for the handout:
Using stream of consciousness writing for 5 minutes, I let my pen & spirit guide me without worrying about forming complete thoughts or sentences: “Today, I feel grateful (alive, peace, energized, hopeful, etc.) when …” or “Today, I was surprised by an unexpected gift when …”
I read what I wrote & underline any words or phrases that draw my attention.
Choosing a word, phrase, pattern, or two among those that I underlined, I recall the experience & how it is a gift to me. I reflect on how it affects the way I relate to myself, to others, or to God.
I conclude by praying the Glory Be or use my own gesture to thank God for this practice of gratitude.
Photo credit: Albert Wolff