I’m beginning an exercise program. For those of you who know me well, you might think that’s the last thing I would want to do. Unlike my husband, Jack, who exercises every day, I can always find an excuse to put off physical exercise – I’m too busy, it’s too hot, too cold, too – whatever.
My new exercise program is different. It’s a gratitude exercise. It came about as the result of casual conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We were catching up, sharing stories and literally counting our blessings. She mentioned that she is taking time, as part of her morning devotions, to be grateful. In a small notebook she records one thing, each day, for which she is grateful. It might be a small thing or a large thing: a person or a place or even a state of being.
So now I have a notebook and a plan to exercise. It’s been surprising to discover what bubbles up each morning. It’s also been remarkable to look back on the last few weeks, to remember and have a chance to enjoy the blessing and feelings of gratefulness all over again. When you are grateful for what you have, you want to do more and give more. Gratitude helps us connect to other people and appreciate what is all around us.
I love Thomas Merton’s famous quote on gratitude:
"To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him."