Keeping a Grateful Heart
I am finally reading a book that I have been wanting to read for a long time, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s been out since 2009, and it was a New York Times Bestseller. That’s probably why I haven’t read it until now. Most of the books I love, I don’t find on the bestselling lists. I’m a stacker and I love historical fiction, biographies, and anything to do with British History. But, I do enjoy the occasional fluffy book. I love this one. She tackles everything in a year. Wouldn’t that be great! Rubin sets a goal each month to work on her own happiness. So I started reading this book and soon realized I didn’t want this to end, this is some really good advice. Think of what you could have accomplished in the last year just taking it one step each month.
I thought I would share with you her resolution for November: “Keep a Contented Heart”. Here is an excerpt from the book, and I think it is some pretty great advice that most of us could use when thinking about being grateful in the world today.
“Did I have a heart to be contented? Well, no, not particularly. I had a tendency to be discontented: ambitious, dissatisfied, fretful, and tough to please. In some situations this served me well, because it kept me constantly striving to improve my work and achieve my goals. In most areas of my life my critical streak wasn’t helpful.”
So the author began to focus on her attitude instead of her actions. She realized she wasn’t laughing like she used to, so she pursued laughing more. She wanted to be kinder, so she focused on good manners, and she resolved to redirect her thoughts away from things that made her irritated. She also focused on “giving good reviews “. She looked for ways to be sincerely enthusiastic and have an uplifting influence on those she encountered. And she kept a refuge in her mind that was a peaceful place. The surprising thing to her was, she found it made her more joyful. She found she could keep a contented heart.
So, what does this have to do with being thankful? Rubin found that as she made these shifts in perspective that her friends and family responded and that she had more laughter, more joy, and fewer things bothered her. She became more grateful. She learned to appreciate the people who brought joy into her life. Which made me think. What if we all came home from work, putting aside all negativity as we came through the door. What about the waitress or sales clerk that you could give a positive review. Or spouse or child? What if we all came into worship on Sunday with this same focus? What if we focused on a joyful worship? What if we came into meetings with this same attention to being joyful and grateful. What if you let loved ones know just how grateful you are for them.
Rubin also included this sweet little prayer of Saint Augustine of Hippo:
“Tend your sick ones, O Lord Jesus Christ;
rest your weary ones; bless your dying ones;
soothe your suffering ones; pity your afflicted ones;
Shield your joyous ones.
And all for your love’s sake.
I hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy, love and peace. I am grateful for you.