“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully,” said poet and activist Maya Angelou. “However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present . . . gratefully.”
Citing this phrase, church historian, consultant and author, Diana Butler Bass wrote a marvelous article on “Practicing Gratitude” 1 earlier this year. It’s an excerpt from her new book, Grateful, which emphasizes the transformative power of giving thanks. I whooped for joy when I read the article, since it reaffirms the gratitude research I’ve been exploring for my book-to-be, Growing Generous Souls. It speaks directly to a simple truth: Grateful living is joyous living!
And resilient living, too. In what she called a “gratitude intervention,” a friend encouraged Butler Bass to keep a daily gratitude journal (listing what she was thankful for each day), to help her improve her mood, reduce stress, and learn a stronger habit of grateful thinking.
“At a psychological level, gratitude isn’t about passive reflection, it’s about building resilience,” says Butler Bass. Its focus is not on being thankful for what has already happened, but rather “growing into our best selves” by helping us live more graciously and appreciatively in the present moment.
These words delight my heart! The more that I live in the present, noticing all the reasons I have to thank God, the more joy floods through my being, regardless of external circumstances. I pray that you will continue to find joy practicing gratitude, as well.
Your partner in ministry,
1 –Butler Bass, Diana, “Practicing Gratitude,” Christian Century March 28, 2018, pp. 10-12. Online version is link.