Living a Grateful Life

We all love slogans, whether they’re plastered on T-shirts, coffee mugs, or roadside billboards. But when it comes to self-help slogans, I find them frustrating. They seem glib: easy to say, hard to practice. There are times when I’m obsessing on a problem and pull up behind a car whose bumper sticker proclaims, “Let Go and Let God.” I feel like shouting out the window, “Easy for you to say!”

Wayne Dyer once coined a catchy slogan: Have an attitude of gratitude. Christians have their own version, penned by the Apostle Paul as he sat in a Roman prison: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice!”

That’s good counsel, but not easy to follow. Normal life stressors are hard enough, and then we have seasons with a deluge of difficulties. A friend of mine once said: “People say God will never give you more than you can handle. Lately, I’ve wanted to scream at God, ‘You flatter me!'”

How can we learn to be more grateful? For the next few weeks I will share a practice that has helped me immensely. It all hinges on three words: IN A MOMENT. We will explore each moment in three ways – entering, accepting, praising.

Entering the Moment
Clearly, one of the arts of existence is to savor every second. So many of us live in two eternities over which we have no control – the past and the future. Meanwhile, the streaming beauty of the present slips past unexplored and unappreciated.

Jesus spoke to this in his Sermon on the Mount. “Which one of you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?” Having tended to countless individuals at their deathbeds, I can say this with certainty. In the end, we will not remember the daily worries that drained our vitality. Only two things will matter at that juncture: our relationships with God and the people who graced our lives.

These relationships begin right now, so entering each moment is crucial. In his book entitled “Spontaneous Happiness,” Andrew Weil calls this mindfulness training, his primary tip on how to find more joy.

We don’t need to be masters of meditation to do this. Consider Brother Lawrence, an illiterate, barefooted monk from the 1600s. He was the cook at a monastery in Paris, constantly serving his superiors. But in that kitchen he endeavored to experience God. Over time, the simple power of his faith drew people of all walks of life to his side. He once said, “For me, the time of business does not differ from the time of prayer. In the noise and clatter of my kitchen, with several persons simultaneously calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees.”

How will you fill the moments of this week? Driving your vehicle; sitting at a desk; working in the fields; tending to spouses, children, or animals; cooking, cleaning, shopping? Whatever your task, enter the moment as fully as possible. Every day is a chance to practice mindfulness, to increase our conscious contact with God. Enter the moment, expecting to meet our Creator, and you will!

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