“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States and we all we turn our thoughts to thankfulness and gratitude. Though gratitude and thankfulness can be synonymous, positive psychologists contend that gratitude expresses a deeper appreciation than thankfulness and produces longer lasting positive results.
Harvard Medical School defines gratitude this way – “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”
With gratitude we not only acknowledge the goodness in our lives but also recognize that some of the sources of this goodness lie outside the self.
“Giving Thanks”, gouache on paper
Taking time everyday to express gratitude can benefit us all in many ways. Many studies have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed. It has also been shown to improve physical health. Practicing gratitude enhances our ability to feel empathy, reduces aggressive behavior, and allows us to appreciate other’s success without envy. In addition gratitude enhances our resilience when faced with difficult situations.
We know how easy it is to fall into negative thought patterns so how can one cultivate gratitude? A couple of suggestions include noticing your every day life from a point of gratitude and vowing not to complain, criticize or gossip for a week. And for those who like arts and craftsy kind of aides to their practice here’s a good article.
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“This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou
I have a confession to make. I have turned into a raging maniac when driving. Blame it on the orange barrel hell my town has become for over a year now; blame it on rude drivers; blame it on my own spiritual deficiency – but no matter the source, it’s unpleasant and I want to be in peace even when driving under insane conditions.
So I began to consider the healing power of gratitude. With so much anger bubbling up on all fronts is it possible that gratitude could be the salve to heal our wounds?
Reflections On Light And Water, gouache on paper by Judith Shaw
It is hard to feel grateful while the ongoing destruction of our Earth’s systems creates more and more climate catastrophes. Yet these catastrophes remind us not to take Earth’s bounty for granted. After my sister lost power and water for almost a week from Hurricane Irma, I remembered what I usually forget and said a small prayer of thanks every time I turned on the water. The miracle of running water is something we all take for granted. I am grateful for the modern convenience of running water and the ease it provides to our lives. I am even more grateful for the waters of Earth, which arrive in many ways and provide life and well-being
Read the rest of my thoughts on gratitude in my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.
UPDATE – the Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards
The decks and guidebooks are in production!
Expected date of arrival in my hands is the first week of December, 2107 (only a few days later than my projected date). That still gives plenty of time to give the deck as Christmas gifts. In the meantime you can pre-order through my website Judith Shaw Art. There are still about 20 or so decks available from this first run.