How would you like to experience the following?

  • Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being
  • Greater optimism and happiness
  • Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crises
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Heightened energy levels
  • Strengthened heart, immune system, and decreased blood pressure
  • Improved emotional and academic intelligence
  • Expanded capacity for forgiveness
  • Decreased stress, anxiety, depression, and headaches
  • Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
  • Heightened spirituality — ability to see something bigger than ourselves

According to Randy Kamen, a psychologist, educator and author, these are the natural result of discovering the “Transformative Power of Gratitude.” She writes,

As you cultivate your “gratitude quotient” the focus can shift from what is lacking in life to the abundance that already exists. It is a matter of retraining the brain to see all the wonder and possibility that lays before us each day.

Brenda and I certainly found this to be true over the thirteen years we cared for David. There were days so long and so hard we didn’t think we could make it through.  But in those dark and lonely times we would stop and practice the art of looking for something to be grateful for.  “Thank you God that the aid was on time.”  Thank you for the warmth of David’s hand on my elbow.”  “Thank you for the three hours the Yankee game will keep David happy.”  Thank you for a friend spending the night with Dan.”  Almost without fail it would cause us to look up and over the events of the day and be reminded that there is still an abundance of love, goodness, and possibility available to be tapped into.  It reminded us that God had not abandoned us and still loved us.

To be honest I have become lazy in the area of expressing my gratitude for the many relationships and things I have been blessed with. A couple weeks ago Kate sent me a TED talk called Nature . Beauty . Gratitude that reminded me of the power and privilege of stopping every day to practice the art of being thankful.  The following is a brief quote from an elderly man who was featured in the talk.

You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.

For the past two weeks I have been practicing and increasing my “Gratitude Quotient.” Here are a few things I am thankful for today:

  1. Brenda; she loves me even when sometimes I am a little unlovable
  2. Ezra’s and Levi’s laughter; it’s contagious and reminds me I need to laugh more
  3. That out of brokenness beauty is possible
  4. Madame Secretary on Netflix: Sometimes I just need to disconnect
  5. Grilled salmon basted in Szechuan sauce cooked by my brother-in-law
  6. Green Bay Packers! Look out Falcons!
  7. The beauty of a sunset and how it declares the beauty and power of God
  8. When someone loves me enough to forgive me
  9. Kate, Rory, Sarah and Morgan- four wonderful women who drive the mission of David’s Refuge
  10. My ceiling fan when my office gets too hot

Today is a new day.  I hope no matter what challenge or brokenness or joy has entered your life today that you would stop, open your eyes, and look for something you can give thanks for.  What are you thankful for today?