Poet e.e. cummings once wrote a poem titled “i thank You God for most this amazing day” which reflects on the beauty and wonder of God while also including all sorts of seemingly ordinary things for which he is thankful.
Ever since I first came across this poem, every so often, I hear its words in my head. I thank you God for most this amazing day. I’ve written before how important I think gratitude is, and what a difference it can make in our outlook on life and in our relationships with others.
But it’s something I have to keep coming back to, because recently and not so recently, it can be pretty easy to get swept up in thoughts about what isn’t working or what I’d like to change.
When that is the case for me, I have to nudge (and sometimes pull) myself to focus on what is good, right, and beautiful in the world. To start my day with thanks for all that God is, has, and is doing in my life, and to take notice of all the things I have to be grateful for…my husband and kids, our dogs, a hot cup of (not too strong) coffee…
For baby steps towards tackling a challenge, for when I don’t forget something on the calendar and for grace when I do, for the people who are light-bearers in my life and who help me recognize the good rather than point out the negative.
When it comes to the power of gratitude in our lives, many studies have proven the difference it can make. But one of the biggest impacts I think it can make is in helping us stay centered in the midst of everything else going on in our lives and the world around us. It can also make a big difference in how we relate to others.
Although gratitude surely won’t solve all the challenges we face today or every hardship you are facing in your own life, I believe our lives are profoundly improved when we take the time and make the effort to give thanks and to recognize God’s promise and presence in our lives, seeing us through all that comes our way, both big and small.
When we make the effort to find something to be grateful for, to express our gratitude, or to simply say a prayer of thanks in the quiet of our hearts, it helps us feel a greater sense of peace in who we are, as well as a greater sense of connection to our fellow human beings.
And the thing is, when we feel at peace with who we are and a sense of connection to others, it makes us more able to listen to them rather than critique or defend, and it helps us be able to give them the benefit of the doubt rather than jump to conclusions. When we are able to do those things, I think we are also better able to see that there is good in the world, and in us.