If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, it will be enough. ~Meister Eckhart
What are you thankful for? Chances are, if you stop what you’re doing right now, you can come up with a bunch of reasons to give thanks. Think about everything, from the people you love, to the roof over your head, to the phone or computer you’re reading this on. No matter what’s wrong in your life right now, you must admit that there is also great good.
According to the late businessman turned life-philosopher John Templeton, there’s another important and almost magical reason to give thanks. Templeton believed there were fundamental unwritten rules that governed our lives, and one of them was this: offering our gratitude and giving thanks to the universe acts like a magnet. In his words:
The more we are grateful for what we have, the more will be given to us.
Templeton was convinced that as we give our love and appreciation to others, the good we put out into the world reverses course and flows back to us. This chain reaction helps us attract “love, joy, opportunity, health, friends, material good. As we appreciate every blessing, life will open up to us in new and wondrous ways.”
As if to prove this point, Templeton began each morning with this simple prayer:
Thank you, God, for all my good.
It’s a prayer we all might consider beginning each day with, and for me this expression of gratitude starts with the words, “I give thanks (to God) for all the good in my life. I am thankful for…” This mental check-list starts with my family, my home and my health, and continues to my job, my co-workers, the sun greeting the new day, the first signs of spring, whatever!
The gratitude can continue throughout your day with the liberal use of the words “thank you.” This means being aware of all who assist you, from the person who takes your order at the coffee shop, to anyone who extends you the slightest courtesy, to signing off on each email with the word “Thanks.” There is no such thing as offering too much gratitude.
The former Patheos writer Rick Hanson stressed the importance of a daily gratitude practice in a story titled Developing a “Buddha Brain” Through Gratitude. Hanson writes that:
Gratitude shifts your attention away from resentment, regret, and guilt…and focuses your awareness on positive things, simple good facts such as having enough water to drink, the laughter of children, the kindness of others, or the smell of an orange.
I should point out that Hanson’s practice of gratitude also extends beyond a morning prayer. He too recommends taking the time to express gratitude throughout each day and offers the following practical advice:
To reap the rewards of gratitude, rest your attention on a good fact, noticing details about it, staying with it for at least a few seconds in a row. Then allow a natural emotional response of gratitude to arise. Continue to pay attention to this feeling of gratitude for another few seconds – or even longer.
The inspirational author James Altucher has had more than his share of tough times. At one point, he lost his home, his wife, his business, as well as a small fortune. But he rebuilt his life. both spiritually and emotionally, through a regimen he calls “A Simple Daily Practice.” A vital part of that practice is what he refers to as ABG, which stands for Always Be Grateful.
According to Altucher, there are a ton of benefits to “Always Being Grateful” and practicing ABG on a regular basis. For starters, he says that when you’re feeling grateful for all the good things in your life:
- You release dopamine into your brain. This makes you feel uplifted and acts as an anti-depressant.
- You get creative energy. Being grateful for what you have, this second, allows you to start planning the next step in a more creative way.
- You’ll treat with better respect the positive things you do have.
Like Hanson and myself, Altucher also advises being grateful for more than just a few minutes in the morning. He recommends that we “try to do it all day” and make it a part of our regular spiritual practice. It’s something he calls a “Grateful Diet” and he makes the following challenge:
Be grateful non-stop for the next 21 days. What could it hurt? Be grateful for every object, person, thought, situation, that enters your mind. All of these are deserving of your gratitude. Do this for 21 days. Your life will be completely transformed.
Are you giving thanks each day for the goodness in your life? Could saying “thank you” on a regular basis help you feel better about yourself and also help those around you feel better? Ask yourself those questions. Then, see if an “attitude of gratitude” doesn’t make sense for you as well.