James and Sarah have been married for 65 years. They are known and loved by everyone who knows them. They seem to glow with a tremendous happiness and gratitude. An old friend who came to visit noticed how they spoke to one another and how lovingly they looked at one another and she asked them if they’d share the secret of their long, happy marriage.
They replied, “Gratitude. That’s our secret. We decided when we were first married that we’d begin each day by feeling grateful for each other, for the miracle of our love. Over the years we’ve tried to show our gratitude by doing things for each other that show our appreciation. Sure we’ve had our difficult times, but somehow, when we connect with our hearts and feel our gratefulness, the troubles and difficulties don’t seem so important.”
James and Sarah discovered something 65 years ago that is now the object of a study on the link between gratitude and marital happiness. The University of Georgia’s study reported that spousal gratitude was the most important predictor of marital quality, that it has a “protective effect, because spouses who reported high levels of gratitude from their partner did not suffer any declines in marital stability. It added, “Gratitude has a Teflon –like effect on a partnership. It can help create an environment where negative events like finances or work stress bounce off and don’t have the same negative effect.”
Gratitude is the foundation of any happy, healthy relationship. And that’s not all. It is the cornerstone of our prosperity if we will live our thanks through giving. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” –Luke 6:38
Gratitude is the building block of our good health. It improves both physical health and psychological health, according to multiple studies conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher. Our thankfulness for the physical body and all its miraculous functions also inspires us to nurture it in healthy ways. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God.” -I Corinthians 6:19
How important it is to not only give our thanks, but also to live our thanks! To take our energy of thanksgiving and turn it into a way of living. The energy of gratitude is at the heart of every part of our lives; our relationships, the health of our bodies, and even our finances. It is a creative force in harmony with the Universe. Above all, it is the joyful realization that we have, by virtue of our divinity, all that we will ever need.
To turn this Thanksgiving season into a life of ThanksLiving for ourselves is a powerful spiritual practice that will change us and our lives. When we are grateful, we naturally increase our good.
In the Bible, we read of the transformative power of gratitude. I Thessalonians 5: 18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” The deeper meaning of this Bible verse is that giving thanks is a creative energy and is the natural response to the givingness of God. When we express gratitude throughout our day or “in all things,” it increases the good in our lives because we are feeling, thinking, and acting in harmony with our inner being, the Spirit of God and Its will of well-being for us.
Though the holiday of Thanksgiving was two days ago, your practice of ThanksLiving can be enjoyed every day of your life. Here are three simple things you can do:
- Think and feel grateful for everyday things; things that most of us take for granted. Take a look at the things around you right now….there’s your table, your lamp, your couch, your TV (and the remote!) your rug and so on. Feel your thanks. Our lives are filled with an abundance of such things, whose presence we may not notice, but which make our lives full.
- When eating, take a moment to think and feel grateful for the people, animals, earth, and weather that it took to bring this food to your table. Say an inward thank you to them.
- If you have a problem, quiet your mind, open your heart and then express your thanks to Spirit for the solution in advance.
Dear friends, the heart of Divine Love is giving. Let us set our intention to begin today to notice and respond with gratitude for all our many blessings. And especially, let us give our thanks for the ineffable gift of the divinity within us by living our thanks to all that blesses our lives with such abundant grace.