As part of the Saint Brendan Small Bytes speaker series, Father Roger spoke last week about ways to make gratitude a form of prayer. During an interactive session, he explained the many psychological, emotional, and spiritual benefits of practicing gratefulness.
To listen to Father Roger’s complete talk, click here. Below are some really practical ways to get started.
GRATEFUL FOR EVERYTHING A-Z
This is a very simple but fun exercise. Go through the alphabet, starting with the letter “A” and ending with the letter “Z.” For each letter, write down or think about the first word that comes to mind. After you identify each word, think about something positive and grateful to say about that word. For instance, “A” might stand for the word “Apple,” and you might write or think, “I can taste the sweetness of a perfectly-ripened apple and am thankful.” Try doing this exercise with your children and grandchildren and enjoy bonding over gratefulness.
THE THREE BLESSINGS EXERCISE
Stop for a few minutes and devote your full attention to being still or slowing down. Focus on your breathing. Now review your day and consider what went well from the time you got up until evening. It could be little blessings. Perhaps you enjoyed a good cup of coffee in the morning or a nice warm shower. Maybe a colleague at work greeted you cheerfully and you had a great chat.
Write down the three good things that happened and write a sentence or two, reflecting on why the good things happened.Repeat the same exercise at the end of each day for the next six days. You’ll find yourself feeling much better about life because the exercise corrects our inherent negativity bias.
GRATEFULNESS IN TIMES OF TROUBLE
Gratefulness can help us navigate through troubling times in our lives. We are not grateful for the trouble but for the experience of learning and healing.
Close your eyes and breath in and out for a few minutes. Focus on a particular concern in your life.
Take a pencil and slowly trace a path through the labyrinth below. Take your time and think about your concern as you draw. When you get to the center, pause for a while and hold your concern quietly in your heart. Then make your way back out, visualizing your tension and confusion lightening with each turn you make. When you reach the entrance again, picture your worry being left behind.
LETTER OF THANKS
Take a few minutes to start a special letter of thanks to someone who did something for you for which you are extremely grateful but to whom you never expressed your deep gratitude. Try to pick someone who is still alive and could meet you face-to-face. It’s helpful to pick a person or an event that you haven’t thought about for a while.
Write about 300 words or roughly one page and then plan a visit with the person in the letter to deliver the letter. Read the letter out loud and then talk about it.