A Christian Science perspective.
Self-help author Melody Beattie wrote about gratitude: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.... It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Traditionally autumn is the time of year when people in many parts of the world reflect on their blessings: a bountiful harvest, a productive year, family, friends, one’s country and freedom, and whatever else is held dear. But if you’re not really feeling grateful right now – maybe the harvest wasn’t so bountiful, or friends and family are few and far between, or concerns are more abundant than blessings – you might find it hard to be really thankful.
I have found it helpful to start small and appreciate the little things that make my life better. When I am thankful for something – anything – I discover even more to be thankful for. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, puts it this way: “Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 3).
It is also helpful to consider a type of blessing that has nothing to do with material possessions, traditions, or even special people. These blessings are the inherent Godlike thoughts and qualities we all possess: qualities such as compassion, charity, generosity, patience, wisdom, honesty, and forgiveness. These attributes enrich our lives, uplifting us by opening our eyes to the good around us. They give us the tools we need to meet our challenges. As God’s children, created in “the image and likeness of God” (Science and Health, p. 414), these godly qualities cannot be depleted or lost.
How else can we tap into an attitude of gratitude? I’ve found it helpful to turn to God for help whenever I feel tempted to give up or give in to discouragement. With prayer there’s always hope, and when this hope is combined with faith and the willingness to follow God’s guidance, I always feel His presence. You will, too. God’s hand is always outstretched to let you know you are not alone and that you are precious and loved, safe and secure. Gratitude itself is a prayer and a blessing.
Finally, there’s value in giving thanks by “giving back.” Sometimes the best way to get help (feel better) is to give help – even a friendly smile can brighten someone’s day. Mrs. Eddy notes: “Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech” (Science and Health, p. 3). A simple act of kindness is a great way to share the blessings of gratitude. One of my favorite Thanksgivings was the year my family and I prepared a turkey for a local community center and served meals to people in need. We gave thanks by giving, and we were blessed, too.
A good way to start any day is to recall Mrs. Eddy’s words: “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings” (Science and Health, p. vii). As you feel the truth of that statement, it becomes easy to follow it up with a daily dose of gratitude.