Gratitude Changes Everything!

This month’s newsletter is dedicated to the practice of Gratitude. Someone once said the more grateful we are for what we have, the more we have to be grateful for. I totally agree. Some of you who are from my generation may recall The Weekly Reader magazines in elementary school. Even as a little girl, I gravitated toward the stories. One of the most inspiring stories I read was about a little old lady who had nothing to eat except a teeny, tiny piece of cake. When she put it on her plate, she could hardly see it. So, she decided to put on her glasses, and when she did the cake appeared so much bigger. She gave thanks for the little morsel of food and ate every crumb. Because of the change in appearance on the plate, she felt very full and satisfied.

I recently read a story about two men who shared a hospital room. Every morning and every night, one of the men would describe to the other what he saw looking out the window from his bed. He described the beautiful birds in flight, the butterfly that landed on the windowsill, the colorful flowers on the neatly manicured, lush green lawn, the bright blue sky and soft white clouds, the refreshing rain as it tapped on the windowpane. When the man was released from the hospital, the other one asked to move to his bed so that he could see all the beauty that had been described. To his disappointment, there was no window—only a bare wall, and the man who had occupied that bed was totally blind. It was through the power of gratitude that he saw what he imagined in his heart.

Both of these stories remind us to be grateful for what we have. We in UUMS have much to be grateful for. Three months ago, we received accreditation through the Accrediting Commission International. We have outstanding instructors, students, alumni, a growing alumni association, a committed board of directors, a dedicated staff, and generous donors. Many successful ministers have graduated from this School since it started in 1979, and more are on their way. We are now offering a certificate in Advanced Metaphysics and more innovative paths for ministry are in the works. None of this would be possible were it not for the foundation on which Rev. Dr. Ruth Mosley established this program—based on Unity principles, the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the mission as stated in Isaiah 61:1; The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to comfort the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to those who are bound. We are exceedingly grateful for our students, alumni, faculty, board, staff, and stakeholders who keep this program going.

Researchers have discovered that the brain has something called “neuroplasticity,” which is its ability to remodel, reshape, and change based on what it focuses on. Scientists have proven that
by focusing on what we are grateful for, we encourage our brain to reshape those parts tied to all good things. In that way, the brain notices more opportunities to change even negative situations
into positive ones.

Gratitude requires intentionality. It takes time and effort to find something for which to be grateful every moment of every day. If you want to experience greater good in your life, start by
being grateful for everything—I mean everything!

A helpful tool to develop the habit of gratitude is a journal. By writing down what you are grateful for every day, you will start noticing more good things in your life. As you practice being more grateful, your brain will create new pathways to your good. If you make this a habit, you can be pretty sure your life will begin to change.

As Unity’s 3rd Principle says, I create my experience by what I choose to think, what I believe, and what I feel. When you make gratitude a habit, you will start to feel happier and more
satisfied with your life. When you are tempted to fall back on old, negative ways of thinking, all you need to do is to think of something that brings you joy—something that you are grateful for, and you will find those negative thoughts will begin to dissipate as more positive experiences begin to show up. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

For a dose of gratitude, I encourage you to watch the YouTube film, Gratitude, by Louis Swartzberg and David Steindl-Rast.  Start expressing your appreciation for everything—whether it’s going your way or not—and see how your life will change. We know that there is always room for improvement. So, let’s make a commitment to join our hearts and minds in expressing appreciation for Unity Urban Ministerial School and see what changes we can bring about. Gratitude changes everything!

“It’s not joy that makes us grateful. It is gratitude that makes us joyful.” David Steindl-Rast

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