The Power of Gratitude

One might think that Thanksgiving is just about the turkey, football and an excuse for a 4 day weekend. Another way to consider Thanksgiving is as an important exercise in spirituality – for the power of gratitude and it’s importance in nearly all the world’s major religions in well documented. Yes, historically Thanksgiving arose from an important gathering of Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1641 at the Plymouth Plantation in the New World (a location which would eventually become Plymouth, Massachusetts, U.S.). But, instead of looking at Thanksgiving as a celebration of an historical event, one could very well look at Thanksgiving as a celebration of the importance of gratitude.

Gratitude, or being grateful, comes from the word ‘grace’. The word ‘grace’ can be traced back to ancient Sanskrit’s ‘grnati’ which could be interpreted as "sings and/or praises". ‘Grace’ in Old French meant "to pardon, mercy, expressing thanks and virtue". In Latin ‘gratia’ means "to favor, show esteem and/or good will". No matter how we look at it, and in whatever language, ‘grace’ seems to express showing or being thankful for the good fortune provided by God, or the Universe, or Providence, or whatever force(s) are at work in our favor. Consider being without grace, or ungrateful: To not sing praise, to express ill-will, to condemn, to be unvirtuous. Hummmm … that sounds rather like being unloving and not spiritual.

Gratitude play a major role in the vast majority of the world’s religions for the past several thousands of years. At the core of almost every religion is an emphasis on virtues such as love, peace, joy, and forgiveness. However, it is gratitude which permeates and gives power to all of these other emotions. When one examines religious scripture from around the world we can find gratitude is present in the simplest of prayers to the most rapturous of heavenly visions. Being grateful for what God (or what the spiritual dimension of life works for you) is a common theme in numerous religious texts and teachings since the beginning of historical records. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of gratitude in the ancient religions of Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism, as well as in newer, contemporary expressions of spirituality such as the New Age movement.

The Role of Gratitude in Christianity

Christians everywhere, no matter what particular denomination they belong to, are encouraged to give thanks to God every single day for everything He has provided for them. Since God is seen as a personal creator, and affectionately referred to as "Father," Christians know that they have Him to thank for their life and for all of the blessings that they have been given. For example, it is common for devout Christians to pray before a meal, offering thanks to God for the food and nourishment that they are about to receive.

It is through God’s love that the world is created and sustained, and so it is a Christian’s duty to recognize and give thanks for these blessings.

The Role of Gratitude in Buddhism

Buddhists may not believe in a personal creator, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t also strive to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. In fact, gratitude is intimately tied to mindfulness, which is perhaps the most important Buddhist practice.

Mindfulness is, quite simply, being aware and living in the present moment. Buddhists believe that the practice of mindfulness is a lot more than a sterile spiritual exercise devoid of any emotion. In fact, one of the main goals of mindfulness is to bring about a deep sense of gratitude. For example, if you are mindful of how you walk and how you eat, then you will at the same time learn to be grateful for your food and even for the grass under your feet.

The Role of Gratitude in Hinduism

Hinduism is an extremely diverse religion with many different methods of worship, and many different objects of worship as well. Nevertheless, the practice of gratitude is something that almost all Hindus have in common.

One particular Hindu form of prayer that many in the West are familiar with is known as the Sun Salutation, a popular yoga pose. Sun Salutations are a symbolic act of thanksgiving to the sun, an act of offering up gratitude for its life-giving light. Prayers of gratitude and thankfulness are also abundant in the Vedas, the sacred texts of Hinduism. These texts contain many prescriptions for when and how a Hindu is suppose to offer thanks for the blessings in their life.

Expressions of Gratitude as Prayer

As you can see from the examples above, expressions of gratitude can very much be considered as a type of prayer. Many Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist prayers are a direct expression of gratitude, such as when one is thankful for their food or for the blessings in their life. These religions also often consider it to be a type of prayer when one simply takes a moment to acknowledge and be thankful for what is going on around them.

For example, a Christian may bow their head, close their eyes, and clasp their hands in order to pray, but just saying "thank you God" in one’s mind in response to a serendipitous occurrence can also be thought of as an act of prayer.

Gratitude and New Age Movements

New Age movement often seek to move beyond individual religions and utilize many different teachings in order to create a type of syncretic belief system. Religious and spiritual teachings about gratitude have carried over seamlessly into many modern New Age beliefs. For example, gratitude is featured heavily in the popular trilogy of books by Rhonda Byrne, "The Secret," "The Power," and "The Magic."

The books, which talk about how you can achieve your goals and build the life you want using the power of your intentions, always stress the fact that in order for any of your intentions to become reality, you must learn to be deeply grateful for what you already have.

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Being grateful will help you to feel more positive emotions such as peace, joy, and love, and those positive emotions will in turn act to attract more positivity to your life.

The Endurance of Gratitude

Gratitude is one of the oldest and most enduring virtues of human spirituality. Both the followers of traditional religions and of modern spiritual movements have found gratitude to be a transformative emotion, and many have argued that learning to be grateful and appreciative of what you have has the power to radically change how you see the world and how you live your life.

This Thanksgiving, celebrate with turkey or whatever traditions you have. Enjoy the holiday. And, perhaps for a moment or two, consider that gratitude seems to be the key to a happy and fulfilling life, and there is no reason why all of us shouldn’t be able to benefit from taking a moment out of our day, every day, to give thanks for what we have.

To speak with a psychic reader who understands the power of gratitude, contact Psychic Rheda. You can reach Rheda at 1-866-407-7164 (toll free USA and Canada). You will also find Psychic Libby a joy to talk with – also available at 1-866-407-7164.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with family, friends and joy.