29th February: Gratitude : Write down the 20 things that you are most grateful for

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thes 5:18

While gratitude leads to increased happiness and  life satisfaction, materialism – which places a higher value on material possessions than on meaningful relationships – has the opposite effect.

Psychologist Emily Polak says: “the pursuit of wealth and possessions as an end in itself is associated with lower levels of well being, lower levels of satisfaction and happiness, more symptoms of depression and more physical problems such as headaches and other disorders.

“Affluenza” is a term used to describe the  emotional distress that arises from a preoccupation with possession and appearances.  This is a sort of virus that infects our thinking and is transmitted by TV, and advertisements. The toxic belief at the core of “affluenza” is that happiness is based on how we look and what we have. If we compare our appearance or wealth to that of the models and millionaires we see on TV is it easy to feel that we are worth nothing.

Gratitude frees us from this toxic condition. Gratitude is about feeling satisfied and  delighting in what you are already experiencing, not wishing for what you do not have. The advertising industry tries to convince us that will only be happy when we have that flat screen TV, or conquered aging. The job of advertisers is to create dissatisfaction. If you are happy with what you own, or how you look, you will not buy!

Gratitude shifts us from focusing on what we do not have, to giving thanks for what we do. Gratitude values relationships, health, leisure time with family.

(adapted from  Active Hope : Joanna Macey)

“The root of joy is gratefulness, it is not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful”   The contemplative monk


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