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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Prayer Practice

Acceptance and Gratitude

Gratitude switches on a small light in my thinking; a light that grows and grows until my whole thought is full of light... And this is prayer.”

There is a connection between a grateful state of mind and happiness. It begins with radical self-acceptance. “This is my life. I accept it just as it is at this moment. This is my body, mind, spirit. I accept myself just as I am in this moment.” Once that giant hurdle is cleared, gratitude becomes easier. The Twelve-Step folks say, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” knowing that acceptance and gratitude for one’s life can sometimes feel like empty platitudes. Say it anyway. Try it as a form of prayer. “I accept myself just as I am, and I give thanks for my life just as it is.”

The interesting thing about gratitude, when practiced with earnestness and regularity, is that we becomes aware of just how rich our life is. This simple awareness lifts our spirits and causes us to be more generous in our actions, words, and deeds. We feel content. The practice of gratitude as prayer is one of the guiding principles of Judaism. There are prayers of gratitude for everything from the bread and wine, to the moon and stars. “Thanks be to you, God of the universe, for the gift of bread.” Life, and everything in it, is viewed as a gift from God.

Acceptance and gratitude not only increase our awareness of the richness of life, they causes us to feel more optimistic. When we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, the moment it takes to give thanks, and ask for guidance, calms us and restores clear thinking. Spiritual poverty is the most debilitating of all simply because it separates us from an appreciation of life's bounty. Gratitude opens us to the Source, which then flows through us to the rest of the world.

Acceptance and gratitude clear us of negative, anxious feelings, and keep our bodies nourished with positive energy. Grateful, optimistic people are simply healthier. Pessimism and robust health are incompatible. Imagine how the world would be different if enough of us lived lives defined by acceptance and gratitude. Today, and every day, I am grateful for you.

                                                        In the Spirit,


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