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January Newsletter — Jan 16, 2013
Setting in motion the spiral of gratefulness at the start of this New Year, we release the spark that reverses the trends of violence and depression, and we begin the journey towards peace and joy. We set foot on that journey not only at some point in time when we become conscious that there is a journey to make, but with the start of each year and even each morning. Rabbi Shefa Gold brings this ancient insight freshly to our attention:
"I gratefully acknowledge Your faces…. Today I promise not to be fooled by Your elaborate and imaginative disguise. I will see and acknowledge You everywhere and in everyone." Even those of us who are not religious can open our eyes each morning in wonder at the infinite creativity of the universe, which over and over again shows us new and astonishing facets.
To awaken in this way is a simple, profound practice we employ to make our lives happier. “Practice makes perfect,” as the saying goes. We build competence only through practice. That’s true of playing saxophone, cooking omelets, meditating, and many other skills, including gratefulness. Psychology and social work professor Connie Corley suggests that we skip New Year's resolutions in favor of a steadily maintained practice of gratitude:
Her observation about the practice of grateful reflection at bedtime makes a perfect bookend to the practice of prayer upon rising. Like children, we can then learn to sleep trustingly and wake with a fierce appreciation:
Practice also takes the form of making the world a better place because we understand the need – the imperative, even – to respond gratefully to this unfathomable gift: an Earth to call our own. In this month’s Gratefulnews, that betterment appears in a song that rose from obscurity to near universal presence; in 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai enduring courage; in a teacher’s wacky experiments and riveting personal story; in the power of our bodies to warm our spaces; and in creative genius on ice:
What gratefulness practice do you want to adopt this year? If you haven’t gotten ideas above, please help yourself to this smorgasbord:
What you experience and model will spread. Judging by all that we hear from you by mail, in courses, and in person, there is no doubt that the practice of grateful living – “interactive mindfulness,” as Br. David likes to call it – is an idea whose time has come. Thank you from our hearts for being amongst its researchers, ambassadors, and friends!
Yours in Service,
Patricia and Margaret
for our Gratefulness Team