During this “Reflections” event at Bakersfield’s historic Crystal Palace, Craig Francis Harrison, MDIV, talks about the power of gratitude.
Video by Bob West Video.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I have been enjoying researching, reading, and praying with a heart of Gratitude. I just finished Matthew Kelly’s book Holy Moments which is really based on the awareness and practice of Gratitude. I am grateful you are all here.
Gratitude, the world’s most powerful drug! I heard that once and it really made me reflect on Gratitude in my life.
Gratitude is defined in the dictionary as, “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
I am reminded of the story of the little boy. He was always upbeat and happy. So much so he was annoying his mother so much that she took him to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist said to her that he does need to appreciate the ups and downs of life to live fully. He suggested she fill a room with manure and tell him that is his birthday present. She did just that and the boy jumped in the middle and started diving down. His mother went crazy when he came up, she said what are you doing? His response – “I KNOW there’s a pony in here somewhere.” Now that’s an optimist who lives in a state of gratitude!!!
Gratitude is powerful because it helps people in many ways. We feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve our health, deal with adversity better, become more resilient, and create strong relationships.
That is why it is such a powerful drug because it turns us inside out. It can be in the simplest things like, thank you notes. I honor my mom every time I write one. I was invited to a party a few weeks ago and it was very nice. The host took a great time with the details. I wrote a thank you for inviting me. I could have said (being thankful) thank you for the invitation and for including me in the event I had a wonderful time.
But after all of my reading on the subject with an “attitude of gratitude”, I also mentioned how wonderful the food was and the table settings, the music, and the signature drink. I mentioned how inviting and hospitable the host was. I hope the small details helped her see her efforts had not gone unnoticed.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Many times I come into contact with people that are searching to be whole. You are whole. It is something we should be grateful for that we are complete and unique enough. We do not have to be someone else or have anyone else make us
whole. Joan sent me a book the other day…whenever I get books I want to read them and then find them piling up. This book was called the missing piece by Shel Silverstein. It took me about 8 minutes to read. I laughed so hard and the book was brilliant.
Matthew Kelly Book Holy Moments
Taking a few seconds out of our day to truly appreciate and acknowledge the simple things makes a difference. IT JUST TAKES A MOMENT TO TAKE AN ORDINARY THING AND MAKE IT HOLY. My miracle walk with Alexander.
Voltaire said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
Gratitude is a divine emotion, it transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary, it makes things HOLY.
SOMETIMES THE REAL CRIME IN LIFE IS NOT APPRECIATING WHAT YOU HAVE.
I like to ask myself what am I looking for in the moment? Or is my mind racing to the next thing I need to do. Right now everyone take a big gratified breath…hold it and breathe out. Be grateful you can breathe.
Research shows that gratitude is good for you. It can lower stress levels, help sleep, and it especially helps us counter the negativity brought forth from our racing minds. When we feel grateful our brains release dopamine, the “feel good” chemicals in our brain.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:18
So the goal would be to increase Gratitude in our daily lives. It is a practice and discipline to live a life of Gratitude. But it is like exercise. We may not always feel like it and that is the time to do it. Thank you Diane Mestmaker for keeping me on track.
About two weeks I had an eye-opening experience of Gratitude.
Example. I went to visit my friend Margie Cooley. She is 91 and when we were young she took care of us as my brother lived at UCLA Medical center and my parents commuted back and forth. I went to her home in Cottonwood, I had heard she just got out of the hospital. She lives alone, I really can’t say that as she keeps the Lord and her Bible very close.
Everything that came from Margie that day was about how wonderful, and powerful, her God is. She never complained about her ailments, never mentioned them, her ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE, humbled me I left her home full of joy and gratitude. I want to be like her! Blessed for a refrigerator, friends life.
G.K. Chesterton wrote, “I would maintain that Gratitude is the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled in wonder”.
We need more Margies in the world!
Expressing gratitude becomes a habit once we can recognize what has been given to us and we appreciate it. We can start by taking a minute every day giving thanks for all we have in our life including our challenges and trials.
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.Corinthians 9:11
I like to wake up every morning (3:30am) put both feet on the floor and begin my day in Gratitude, thanking God for the sleep, the new day, my children and grandchildren, what he has in store for me today vs what I have planned. It changes my entire outlook on the day. I take deep breaths and thank him for all of my senses. As I go through my day I try to practice short breaks of “conscious practice of gratitude”.
Between appointments I often take walks with Francis around the block, opening my eyes and getting out my head to see the changing of the seasons or some simple beauty I had not seen before.
Jay Shetty, one of my Mentors, has some great podcasts and books on Gratitude. He talks about “grateful living”. I practiced it a lot when traveling, whether sitting on a plane or having a glass of wine, just being grateful for all of the blessings!
Psalm 95:2 reminds of this, “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
Robert Brault once said, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
Maya Angelou said, “This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before.”
One of the best ways we can express gratitude outwardly is by saying thank you…and our thank yous should be specific like I mentioned with thank you notes. Express to others what you are grateful for. Good service at a restaurant we can say thank you, or have an attitude we deserve good service, but when someone serves you well how about saying things like: thank you you are so good at serving others, I appreciated your smile and attentiveness, you could even take 1 minute to let her boss know.
Just think of how that could brighten their day and make up for the rude, ungrateful patron. You can also do it with the tip. Tell a story about Alexander and me tipping others.
Melody Beaty, who wrote Codependent No More, said, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”
Kindness and Gratitude go hand in hand. They work together. Kindness is when you genuinely want something good for someone and you put the effort
in giving/doing for them. Kindness inspires gratitude. You also have to be able to accept the kindness and gratitude others give you.
Sometimes it is more difficult for us to express our gratitude to the people closest to us than it is to others. We have to make conscious efforts to change this. Start with your spouse, your children, or your parents. Oftentimes we think more about what they have failed to do for us than what they do…taking care of the house and yard, and our thank you’s have gotten lost in the tasks!
Kristen Armstrong said, “When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in”
Service is another way to experience gratitude. When we realize how blessed we are we should be moved to service. Whether it be helping out at SVPD, belonging and working in Rotary, Kiwanis, or volunteering at your child’s school. Recycles a Grateful heart. Are you too busy (BEING UNDER SATAN’S YOKE ) to give back?
I believe one of the greatest remedies for depression is service, get out of your head and serve.
Everything we do should be a result of our gratitude for what God has done for us.
Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
So tonight WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR, what are you grateful for? I am grateful to be here, grateful to the Crystal Palace for having us and providing great service, for Reflections for working hard to bring us together to grow and share and fellowship, I am thankful my son Roy knocked off one on his bucket list of singing at the Crystal Palace. I am grateful to all of you for coming out. And most of all I am grateful to our Lord for calling me to ministry,
new experiences and a deeper relationship with HIM.
Germany Kent said, “It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of things you’re grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things you lack.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” By the way, that goes for your trials and struggles too.
Oprah reiterates that when she said, “True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘Thank you for that experience. Even if it is painful.
So the main points tonight are about
- Making gratitude part of your daily life and prayer.
- Gratitude is healing
- Gratitude is good for your physical, emotional and spiritual well being
- When you’re grateful, be specific about what you are grateful for and express that to others.
- Jesus was the prime example of Gratitude always giving thanks to the Father
- Gratitude will fill you with joy.
Start a gratitude journal…instead of checking your phone first thing in the morning write down 3 things you’re grateful for.
Pray before and after meals, appointments, phone calls
Remember my friend Margie told me how grateful she was to have a washing machine. She remembers doing it all by hand.
Write a gratitude letter to someone, a teacher, coach, old friend, or mentor. I write one every week. I
don’t say a lot but let them know how grateful I am for the influence and love they have shown me.
Volunteer, we need help at St. Vincent de Paul, maybe you can answer phones or offer 2 hours to serve food or fold clothes or just talk to our friends who come.
Next time you go to the store, get in the longest line and while you wait think of all the things you are grateful for. What is in your basket, that you can afford it, you have the health to push the cart, the convenience of a store. Your family, the meals you will make, the farmers and laborers who made it all possible. Before you know it you will be next in line with a smile on your face. Pray in Gratitude.
Meister Eckhardt said “If the only prayer you ever said was thank you, that would be enough.”
Gratitude is one of the few gifts you can give and will receive much more coming you. Rumi said,” Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.”
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.Psalm 118:24
Next week is Thanksgiving. Have everyone write three things they are grateful for have it at door pens and then Sticky notes. Put it under different plates and when it is time for grace have each person read the list it is anonymous and fun.
Now you can be grateful I am done!
Gratitude Bibliography (Thank you very much)
Simple Abundance Book, Sarah Ben Breathnach The Little Book of Gratitude, Robert Emmons, PhD Words of Gratitude for Mind Body and Soul, Ennons and Hill The Gratitude Diaries, Janice Kaplan
A Simple Act of Gratitude, John Kralik Gratitude is My Superpower, Alicia Ortega Gratitude, Oliver Sacks
Think Like A Monk, Jay Shetty
The Gratitude Project, Jeremy Smith Holy Moments, Matthew Kelly
The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein