On Gratitude and Grace . . . .

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that gratitude means “thankfulness, appreciation of kindness.” The passing, last weekend, of Canadian Thanksgiving made me consciously reflect on the many blessings in my life, for which I do feel much gratitude.

Thanksgiving falls near my and other family members’ birthdays and the fall celebration is always mercifully less commercial than Christmas. For these reasons, I find that it’s easier to become aware of the good things at work in my life and reflect that awareness in interacting with others—be they clients, prospects, colleagues, competitors, family or friends.

I feel particularly grateful to all of the people who offered me psychological support throughout my years at university and to those who have offered me support as I have invested hard work and in building my communications business. At least 20 folk come to mind, including some whose paths no longer cross with mine, but whose influence continues.

What an extraordinary blessing I receive to work hard on projects that interest me and that make a difference to my clients and to the larger communities where they work and live. And to have readers like you who take the time to read my blog: Thank you for being a part of my circle. I am deeply grateful for the life-enriching gift of having meaningful work.

In this war-torn, conflicted and endangered world that endangers civilians in Syria and Iraq; that violates the rights of people of the Ukraine; and besets the most vulnerable in an Africa beset by Ebola, it’s vital that we take the time to be conscious of the blessings of our lives. So much of contemporary life has us complaining and “venting” to colleagues, families and friends. We need to do that to cope with stress, true. But who among us actually has a “gratitude circle” of peers with whom we quite consciously count our blessings, especially in tough times?

The health-giving effect of feeling gratitude has been documented by many schools of medicine. And in various faith traditions, gratitude is also essential. . . . In the Quran, gratitude involves a threefold awareness that blessings come from God; that appreciation should be expressed to the Creator; and that people should proclaim those blessings.  . . . Not so differently, in the Christian tradition, we also must acknowledge that all good things are created from God, including us.  There are nearly 100 passages in the Bible that refer to God’s grace and the human need to express gratitude, for that grace.

If and when your world is beset by struggle, loss or difficulty (be it professional or personal), do you have the support of others near you to enable you to achieve peace of mind? When you do find stability and security, does your well of gratitude flow as abundantly, with these people? That is my wish for you, this Thanksgiving.

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