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Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice

OK, I promised I would let you know what I think my time priorities ought to be. I’m going to break that promise for now. Because it’s Thanksgiving. And giving thanks is a transformative spiritual practice (something - spiritual practices

- I said I would focus on in my time here).

Of course, you would expect a preacher to say something like giving thanks is a transformative spiritual practice around this time of year. But would you expect Asheesh Advani to say this? Advani is the President and CEO of Junior Achievement. And in his "Year of Living Brilliantly" talk he said that the way to be optimistic is to show gratitude. Every day. And that will change you because it will change your outlook on all kinds of things.

Advani didn’t say he was thinking about this as a spiritual practice. But I am. Because regular engagement with spiritual practices shapes us, molds, opens us to God’s leading. Plus, they are really good for mental health.

Here’s what I suggest (and am trying to do):

1. Go buy a small notebook, something you can carry around with you. Don’t use an electronic device--too many distractions.

2. Write today’s date in it.

3. As the day progresses, write down something you notice that you happen to be thankful for. You can’t write family and friends! Because that’s too general. Be specific! Like:

The freedom to be lazy when I am tired. (I haven’t always had this freedom, but boy does it come in handy now!)

The attitude of today’s Food pantry volunteers.

The view from . . . today.

Pork steaks.

The taste of the coffee this morning.

Try to write down three things a day. It takes three (according to Advani) to make a difference. Try this for 30 days. See if you are different. And, don’t worry, if you don’t like your new self, you can always get your old self back.


Pastor Mark Walters


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